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FINCH-SAUNDERS: Councils splash the cash on empty buildings

More than £11 million was spent by councils on running empty buildings in Wales last year, as maintenance, utility and security bills sky-rocketed.

A total of £11,250,239.72 was spent by councils in 2015-16 on unused non-residential buildings – up 29% on the previous year, and at an average of £750,000 per local authority.

The figures emerged after a Freedom of Information request by Janet Finch-Saunders, the Welsh Conservative spokesperson for Local Government.

Big spenders – Neath Port Talbot council – made up an astonishing 86% of the total, with £9.7m spent.

Commenting on the figures, Mrs Finch-Saunders, said:

“Welsh councils are spending more and more each year maintaining empty buildings, and all the while council tax bills keep rising – by 4% last year.

“Neath Port Talbot alone spent more than £9 million, and councils need to find ways to get these buildings back into use, or sell them.

“Empty buildings are hugely expensive and even if they’re not in active use they still need to be maintained and guarded.

“It is a serious issue and council leaders need to find ways to make their assets work to the benefit of the wider community.”