Details of purchase should be made public, say opposition

ipswich: Despite the squeeze on the economy, councils are being offered favourable interest rates to enable them to buy property like Landmark House on the edge of the town, it emerged today.

But opposition politicians at Endeavour House are set to continue to put pressure on the administration to reveal more details about the complex deal with Suffolk Police to shuffle their property portfolio.

Both Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians at the county have raised questions about the deal which will see the council and the police authority buying Landmark House on the Whitehouse Industrial estate and St Edmund House in Rope Walk.

Once the buildings are ready, the Civic Drive police station and county council offices in Tower Street and Belstead House will be sold. The county will also surrender its leases on the social services office in Whitehouse Road, Ipswich and on the Kerrison Centre at Thorndon, near Eye.

Alison Scott from the Charted Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) said councils could get very favourable rates of interest to borrow money to buy property.

“It certainly makes sense to rationalise the property holdings in the present climate – although public bodies need to be able to account for all their spending once any changes are made,” she said.

Former Labour leader of the council Bryony Rudkin said: “The county still needs to make things clearer about how the deal will work. There are still questions I want answered.”

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And Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Andrew Cann said: “I’m still not convinced that it would not be cheaper to build from scratch than refurbish Landmark House. We need to know more about the deal.”

n Is the deal good value? Write to Your Letters,Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstar