Colchester Council has forked out over £600,000 in business rates on its portfolio of empty commercial properties – and the figure is rising fast.
These figures have been supplied by the Council, in response to a Freedom of Information request I made recently via Whatdotheyknow.com.
The staggering levels of waste come at a time when the Council is trying to cut costs by slashing valued public services, such as closing Abbot’s Activity Centre to save £74,000 per year.
The lion’s share of the expenditure has been frittered on various commercial premises within the old Keddie’s building on Queen Street. A recent Gazette investigation uncovered this black hole in the Council’s finances, inspiring me to find out how much more money is being wasted on business rates.
If you like your blood pressure on the high side, the results make interesting reading.
Here are some headline figures and stats.
- £602,809.99 – the amount spent to date on currently vacant commercial properties
- £128.760.83 – the business rates these properties will attract in 2013
- £233,850 – the most spent on business rates for a single property (21 Queen Street)
- 3807 days (over 10 years) – the longest vacant properties (CBC Warehouse 3, Haven Road & Public toilets adjacent the car park on St John’s Street)
- 93 days (3 months) – the property vacant for the smallest period (5 St Nicholas Street – the former Jack’s hardware store)
The FOI request has revealed that Colchester Borough Council has been quietly paying business rates on some surprising properties. They include.
PUBLIC TOILETS – £26,397.57
The Council is literally pissing money up the wall when it comes to three public toilet sites. In total they have been empty for 9,229 days and cost us £26,397.57 – with a current annual charge of £5322.30.
- Prettygate Road. Empty 1250 days. £1,248.15 charge for 2013. £3,609.30 since empty.
- Hawthorne Avenue. Empty 4172 days. £1,436.55 charge for 2013. £8,000.97 since empty.
- St John’s Street (by car park). Empty 3807 days. £2,637.60charge for 2013. £14,787.30 since empty.
CBC WAREHOUSES AND TRANSIT SHED – £95,890.50
The Council has wasted a fortune on empty warehouses and a transit shed. In total they have been empty for 13,646 days and cost us £95,890.50 – with a current annual charge of £20,535.60.
- Transit Shed, Haven Road. Empty 2378 days. £2,778.90 charge for 2013. £11,685.60 since empty.
- CBC Warehouse No 1, Haven Quay. Empty 2542 days. £4,097.70 charge for 2013. £17,162.20 since empty.
- CBC Warehouse No 2, Haven Quay. Empty 2377 days. £3,673.80 charge for 2013. £15,243.60 since empty.
- CBC Warehouse No 3, Haven Quay. Empty 3807 days. £7,300.50 charge for 2013. £40,524.50 since empty.
- CBC Warehouse No 4, Haven Quay. Empty 2542 days. £2,684.70 charge for 2013. £11,274.60 since empty.
OTHER COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES
At this point, I’m losing the will to live – so I’m going to publish the whole shameful list.
But it beggars belief that the Lib Dem led Council is busy trying to shut services for the elderly while it fritters away nearly £130k per year on needless business rates.
Is buying the First bus depot really such a good idea if a) it attracts more business rates and b) the councillors have no real plan about what to do with it?
I think the Council should spend a fraction of this money on a professional who could get these empty sites filled – or recommend that they get knocked down where there’s no realistic chance of selling or letting them.
|Addr 1||Addr 2||Addr 3||Addr 4||Postcode||No. of days unoccupied||2013 Charge||Total charge since property became empty|
|COLCHESTER CASTLE||HIGH STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 1DA||154 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|ST HELENS CHAPEL||MAIDENBURGH STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 1TT||1615 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|TYMPERLEYS||8 TRINITY STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 1JN||528 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|PUBLIC TOILETS RECREATION GROUND||WIMPOLE ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO1 2BX||519 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|PUBLIC TOILETS||PRETTYGATE ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO3 4EQ||1250 days||£1,248.15||£3,609.30|
|8 TRINITY STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 1JN||1250 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|PAY & DISPLAY CAR-PARK||JARMIN ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO1 1XW||161 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|TRANSIT SHED, HAVEN QUAY||HAVEN ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 8HT||2378 days||£2,778.90||£11,685.60|
|C B C WAREHOUSE NO 2||HAVEN QUAY||HAVEN ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 8HT||2377 days||£3,673.80||£15,243.60|
|CUSTOMS HOUSE FIRST FLOOR||6 & 7 THE HYTHE||COLCHESTER||CO2 8JB||3107 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|PUBLIC TOILETS||HAWTHORN AVENUE||COLCHESTER||CO4 3QE||4172 days||£1,436.55||£8,000.97|
|21 QUEEN STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 2PQ||3776 days||£28,260.00||£233,850.96|
|C B C WAREHOUSE NO 3||HAVEN QUAY||HAVEN ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 8HT||3807 days||£7,300.50||£40,524.50|
|GND FLOOR,CUSTOMS HOUSE||6 & 7 HYTHE QUAY||COLCHESTER||CO2 8JB||221 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|PUBLIC TOILETS ADJ CAR PARK||ST JOHNS STREET||COLCHESTER||CO2 7AN||3807 days||£2,637.60||£14,787.30|
|GRD FLR FRONT||THE OLD HARBOURMASTERS OFFICE||HYTHE QUAY||COLCHESTER||CO2 8JB||1615 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|4TH FL ST JAMES HOUSE||QUEEN STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 2PG||3776 days||£11,657.25||£95,999.73|
|C B C WAREHOUSE NO 1||HAVEN QUAY||HAVEN ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 8HT||2542 days||£4,097.70||£17,162.40|
|C B C WAREHOUSE NO 4||HAVEN QUAY||HAVEN ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 8HT||2542 days||£2,684.70||£11,274.60|
|3RD FL ST JAMES HOUSE||QUEEN STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 2PG||2593 days||£11,186.25||£74,882.18|
|ROMAN HOUSE||19-23 QUEEN STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 2PQ||630 days||£13,776.75||£29,600.99|
|2ND FL ST JAMES HOUSE||QUEEN STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 2PG||519 days||£11,186.25||£19,351.83|
|ADVERTISING RIGHTS @ COLNE BANK||ROUNDABOUT||COLNE BANK AVENUE||COLCHESTER||CO1 1SJ||1827 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|ADVERTISING RIGHT @ HAWKINS ROAD||ROUNDABOUT||HAWKINS ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 8JX||1827 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|ADVERTISING RIGHT @ ST BOTOLPHS||CIRCUS ROUNDABOUT||ST BOTOLPHS CIRCUS||COLCHESTER||CO2 7EF||1827 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|ADVERTISING RIGHTS @ MIDDLEBOROUGH||ROUNDABOUT, WESTWAY||MIDDLEBOROUGH||COLCHESTER||CO1 1QX||1797 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|ADVERTISING RIGHT @ TOLLGATE||ROUNDABOUT, LONDON ROAD||STANWAY||COLCHESTER||CO3 8RS||1827 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|26 ST BOTOLPHS STREET||COLCHESTER||CO2 7EA||240 days||£13,276.39||£13,276.39|
|121 FOREST ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO4 3XG||1525 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|MAGISTRATES COURT @ COLCHESTER||TOWN HALL||HIGH STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 1PJ||521 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|2 PORTLAND ROAD||COLCHESTER||CO2 7EH||154 days||£4,242.87||£4,242.87|
|37 QUEEN STREET (GD 1ST 2ND FLRS)||QUEEN STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 2PQ||185 days||£0.00||£0.00|
|5 ST NICHOLAS STREET||COLCHESTER||CO1 1LB||93 days||£9,316.77||£9,316.77|