Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Loads of Money!

The Mail (27th July) reported that Hartlepool Council bought the derelict Morison Hall for £60,000. How can the council justify spending money acquiring property when it is busy selling off other assets as fast as it can? £60,000 is the same amount for which the Council allegedly sold Rockhaven in Victoria Road, citing lack of funds for essential repairs for the give away price.

If the Council had to sell Rockhaven because they couldn’t afford to maintain the building then how will the council be able to afford to renovate the Morison Hall?

Mayor Drummond said the Council will now be advertising for “development partners or local businesses who we can look to go forward in partnership with.” However, the auction details gave the Guide Price as £50-60,000. Unless Hartlepool Council were so incompetent that as the only bidder they opened at the top price then someone else must have also been bidding? In which case there was a developer, or local business, already interested. Possibly that potential partner is expecting a considerable incentive to take the project forward with the council. A similar deal to Rockhaven perhaps? The Council pays all the renovation costs and then hands over a £350,000 building for a fraction of its market price?

Hartlepool Council obviously has £1,000s sloshing around in its coffers for speculative property deals. There can therefore be no shortage of cash in the town’s current account. Making talk of impending cuts and overspends just hot air and scare tactics!


  1. On the face of it, I agree, it does seem like a fairly dumb way to be using tax payers money. But the assumption here is that they are trying to turn a profit with property speculation.

    But there is another possibility, in that there were no developers willing to buy the property.
    Surely its in Hartlepools interest to prevent derelict properties from just sitting there, bringing down the appeareance of the region?
    Sometimes a little subsidy from the council is what is needed to encourage someone to restore the property.

    I dont know anything about the RockHaven deal though. I do hope they wont be *fully* covering any restoration costs, which is what you seem to be suggesting happened there

  2. If Hartlepool Council were capable of making a profit on such a deal then I'd be all for it. However their commercial incompetence makes this extremely unlikely. The most likely scenario now is that they will eventually demolish the building and sell the land for building, but that will take several years. Alternatively they will take on a partner in the development and HBC will put in the money and the partner will take the profits!

  3. Hi Steve.

    Given that the last owner couldn't pursuade his backers that the hall could be proffitably converted to flats, one is left to wonder what private deal would be possible. If there is none forthcoming over the next few months, as a headland Councillor as well as a keen monitor of the rates; what do you think that the Council now best do with the buiding?

    its John Bloom by the way.

  4. Hi John,
    thanks for the comment. Unfortunately I'm now a FORMER councillor so my input is considerably reduced! I remember playing table tennis at the Morrison Hall back in the 1970's but what to do with it now? The site would be a fantastic place for a house and there is a real shortage of quality building plots on the headland. I'd have bought it myself if I'd thought there was a chance of that. However, "conservation" will kill that idea. I predict it will sit there as a ruin for the next 20 years, joining the Friarage Hall on the list of derelict buildings no-one can afford to restore but which the council won't allow anyone to knock down! Heritage and conservation are fine but sometimes you've just got to know when to let it go! Rather like the ODEON? Time for the bulldozers there I would have said! Save the frieze and flatten the rest!

  5. Dear Steve,

    Nice to touch base with you again. I am geuinely sorry that you have lost your seat. As you know I am no fan of UKIP, my ideas on immigration and Europe being about opposite accross the board. Still though the Council will be poorer without its Casandra. I do hope that all is well with you and yours. Are you planning to run again? You really must!

    On the Odeon, I fail to see any special architectural quality there, it should have come down ages ago, Frieze and all.

    The Morrison Hall is a bit different though. It is an imposing and impressive building, and as you know Headlanders are much keaner to see thier heritage sites preserved, than is th case in the "Wild West", where I reside.

    I got interested in the hall, as my business in Blackhall will be too small for me in about a year, and I will need a move. So I am condidering a making proposal, but I expect red tape, departmental politics and beurocratic inertia will kill it off before it even gets a proper examination. Still I am tempted to try! So watch that space.

    Best regards to you and yours, John.

  6. I honestly don't know whether to run again or not. There are many people telling me I should, especially after the way I lost the seat, but I wonder if it isn't a bit sad and desperate to chase after a seat you've held and lost? Everyone who stands for election loses eventually, isn't it better to accept the voice of the people telling you to go? I would love to see Morrison Hall back into productive use, but as it is now owned by the council I think you are right that the chances have just dropped considerably. I will however watch that space as you suggest and hope you are successful, (even if you are somewhat misguided on your views on the EU....lol.....) Good luck and of course best wishes are reciprocated to you and yours!

  7. Run! Person not Party is more important in Council politics. At the last election I leafleted for Keith Fisher, even though I have no great love for the Lib Dems. You could still make a useful contribution. There are still apple carts to be upset and dullards to be dislodged.

    nil desporandum illigitimi