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£26,000 flushed away on disused toilets
7:00pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
PUBLIC money is being flushed down the loo with three empty toilet blocks costing thousands of pounds every year.
Disused public conveniences have cost Colchester Council £26,397.57 in business rates since 2002.
In total it has spent £602,000 on empty properites in the last decade.
The biggest drain on the public purse has been the former Keddies department store costing £453,000 and empty warehouse in Haven Road, Hythe costing £95,000.
Ben Locker, a Conservative activist from Mile End, requested the information after a Gazette investigation found the cost of former Keddies department store in Queen Street was costing about £80,000 a year.
Mr Locker said: “The sheer scale of what is being spent is incredible.
“The sheer scale of what is being spent is incredible."Ben Locker
“I’m especially struck by the amount of time it has been spent for.
“The council seems to lack any great commercial vision and I think that is backed up by the fact we’re paying tens of thousands of pounds for disused toilets.”
“There is no excuse for having property unused for ten years in this town, there are opportunities here.”
Colchester Council bought the former Keddies store as part of the St Botolph’s Cultural Quarter project, and bought empty warehouses in the Hythe as part of plans to regenerate the area.
Mr Locker said although letting property has proved difficult during the recession, Colchester Council could be doing more to get the properties back into use.
He said: “If Colchester Council had a bit more commercial acumen and a bit more vision, I don’t think we would be in this position.
“I would expect a lot of properties could be used for community use and if the council had an expert on board, it would probably find a number of uses.”
Since 2002, the total amount spent on empty properties is £602,809.99, with £128,760.43 this year.
The former Keddies building will cost taxpayers £76,066.50 this year.
Disused toilets in St John’s Street have cost £14,787 in business rates over the last 11 years.
Empty loos in Hawthorn Avenue, Greenstead, have cost £8,000 since the building closed 11 years ago.
A block in Prettygate Road, next to Prettygate Library, has cost £3,609 since it was closed three years ago.
The Freedom of Information request also shows £95,890.50 has been spent on empty warehouses in the Hythe, including £20,535.60 this year.
An empty unit at 26 St Botolph’s Street is costing taxpayers £13,276 a year.
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