Children's home in £6m council sell-off

BARNSLEY Council has raised another £6 million for its coffers by selling off more of its unwanted assets.

Opposition councillors have called the auctions the equivalent of “selling the family silver”.

But council leaders insist the sales are a sensible and practical way of raising funds to invest in education, new homes and services.

In the latest sale - which featured 14 Barnsley Council lots - a former children’s home went for 145,000 more than its auction price guide.

Needlewood, which has 10 first-floor bedrooms and stands in a wooded three-acre site on Keresforth Hill Road, went for 540,000 at the Mark Jenkinson & Son auction.

Adrian Little, auction co-ordinator partner, said: “The property has enormous potential and the final price reflected that. Barnsley property usually features in our auctions but we think this is the first time we have offered as many as 14.”

Barnsley Council plans to sell off 85 million of property and assets over the next few years to pay debts and invest in schools.

Land, garages, houses, shops, offices and ground leases are among 171 lots set to go under the hammer over the next three years.

The total income from the sales is conservatively valued at 85.6 million and the biggest beneficiary will be education. The Building Schools for the Future project to build nine secondary schools will receive 57 million.

Millions will also be ploughed into schemes to improve housing stock and build affordable homes in partnership with housing associations. The rest will be used to plug deficits, predicted to be 10 million by 2010. An auction of assets last year raised 7.4 million for council coffers.

A variety of small Barnsley terraced houses in varying conditions sold for between 60,000 and 80,000 in the sale, and two attractive double-fronted cottages at Elsecar, close to the Heritage Centre and dating back to the mid-19th century, sold at 105,000 and 115,000 despite being in need of complete modernisation.