MPs want answer on public agency assets

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SOUTH Yorkshire MPs have called on the Government to end uncertainty over the future of millions of pounds worth of assets owned by axed regional development agency Yorkshire Forward.

Yorkshire Forward, which is being wound down, owns 34 sites in South Yorkshire which could be sold off - 13 in Rotherham, eight in Sheffield, eight in Barnsley and six in Doncaster.

Politicians have been lobbying for the buildings and land owned by the agency to remain in public hands in the county, particularly as some are key to regeneration projects.

But a year after the Government announced it was scrapping Yorkshire Forward, there has been no decision about what will happen to the assets.

They include the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Waverley, former colliery sites and the freehold on Sheffield city centre sites such as the Digital Campus, the former Sheaf House and Nelson Mandela House.

Ministers have insisted there will be no ‘fire sale’ of the assets, but with the Treasury keen for funds it is likely some will be put on the market.

The Government has ruled out handing assets to councils for free, demanding that they pay market value to take control of them.

But discussions are reportedly taking place about whether they could be handed to regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency.

Now MPs have tabled a Commons early day motion highlighting ‘extreme concern’ over the uncertainty of ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ of public assets.

The motion, submitted by Labour MP Stephen Twigg, has been signed by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Sheffield Central’s Paul Blomfield, South East Sheffield’s Clive Betts and Bolsover’s Dennis Skinner.

The MPs urged Government Ministers to ‘urgently’ make a decision ‘to allow these assets to continue to be utilised to boost growth’.

Mr Jarvis said: “I will continue to keep the pressure on the Government, to ensure the best deal for Barnsley.”