Fury over £327k for renting empty office

Dean Clough G Mill, Halifax.
Dean Clough G Mill, Halifax.

An angry councillor has slammed Calderdale Council for spending a reported £327,000 on empty offices at Dean Clough, Halifax.

The council entered into a lease of office space in G Mill in September 2007 but was vacated seven years later.

However, the lease agreement does not finish until 2022 with the council still paying for the empty space.

Councillor James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) said: “Calderdale Council moved out of the offices it was leasing at Dean Clough two years ago, but is still paying £163,500 per year for the space.

“That means that the Council has paid out nearly one-third of a million pounds for something that is of no benefit for the people of Calderdale.

“As the lease has over six years still to run, a further million pounds could well be wasted in the same way.

“Clearly the Council needs to take action to reduce this wasteful spending or, hopefully, get rid of it altogether.

“This also calls into question the wisdom of the Council in entering into long leases that it can’t easily get out of.

“Even if the council’s coffers were overflowing with cash, this would be an unacceptable waste of public money. In these difficult times it is even more intolerable.

“The tax-payers of Calderdale and the Council staff who are at risk of losing their jobs over the coming years would be right to be appalled by this wasteful use of scarce resources.”

Originally constructed for cotton spinning, G mill was the penultimate mill to be commissioned by Crossley Carpets from Halifax architect Roger Ives.

Calderdale Council’s Lead for Corporate Asset and Facilities Management, Alan Lee, said: “As part of the Halifax Town Centre Office Strategy we have consolidated and significantly reduced our town centre office accommodation, which means that G Mill and a number of other buildings are no longer required as council office space.

“It is expected that this strategy will not only modernise our estate, reduce our liabilities and enhance the organisation’s flexibility, but it will also deliver significant financial savings.

“Consequently, Dean Clough was vacated in April 2014, leading to an immediate reduction in costs of around £95k per annum. The lease does not expire until September 2022, and so we have been marketing the space through agents in an attempt to sub-let. We are also arranging to meet with the landlord to discuss options.”