Wed, 02 May 2018
BASINGSTOKE and Deane Borough Council is undertaking a lease audit to ensure its property portfolio is managed correctly, which couldn’t come soon enough, according to one councillor.
Ken Rhatigan (Con, Kingsclere) said: “We have a property on Swan Street in Kingsclere.
“I have been informed by your property team that the lease on that expired in 2006 for the people who are currently renting it.
“They have been in a hold-over period for 12 years.
“I find that absolutely disgusting.
“That means we are not working our assets properly, we are not ensuring that the people in there are paying the right amount of rent to us.
“We are in a position where, if we wish to move on, sell it, change it, we are not in the right place.”
Interim property services manager Steve Sprason responded: “We are in the process of verifying all of the lease data.
“We employed a lease analyst a few months ago to start reading through all our leases to make sure the lease data is 100 per cent accurate.
“This should be done by the middle of April.”
He added: “Just because a lease has not been removed, it does not mean properties are not being actively looked at.”
Mr Rhatigan said: “This is awful and, although you have somebody in to look at that, a 12-year period for a piece of property that is fundamental to Kingsclere, because it is rented out to a local business and is iconic in the main street of Kingsclere, is not sufficiently good enough and I ask that something is done about it.”
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council property services manager Mike Bovis said: “The best way of dealing with this building as a council property asset has beenunder consideration for some time.
“It is the old rural district council buildings and has sometimes proved difficult to keep let.
“On this basis the priority to date has been to keep local businesses and organisations in the building.
“Therefore, we have allowed this tenant to stay in the building under the terms of the existing lease.
“Under our new property investment strategy, we are in the process of reviewing all of our commercial properties to ensure they are making an appropriate contribution in rent to go towards supporting borough services.
“Therefore, we are discussing a new lease with the tenant.”
Mr Rhatigan added: “It is a deficit to this council and every single taxpayer.”