Lib Dems try to nab Labour over plan to buy police HQ

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OPPOSITION councillors are trying to put the brakes on Hull Council’s £386,000 purchase of a former police authority headquarters.

Lib Dem politicians have called in a decision record signed by deputy leader Coun Daren Hale for the Pacific Exchange offices on Hull’s High Street.

They were put up for sale by police commissioner Matthew Grove who described them as “an oak-panelled former gentleman’s club with deep carpet and leather Chesterfield sofas”.

The council has to save £48m and recently confirmed the closure of the Hands on History Museum to passing visitors.

But Labour councillors have defended the purchase, saying the money comes from the capital rather than revenue budget and won’t impact on jobs or services.

They say the building will be used to house the team working on the City of Culture 2017 plans and staff relocating as Kingston House and other offices close.

The call-in will be discussed at a meeting today.

Lib Dem Group Leader Coun Mike Ross said the arguments put forward for its future use were unconvincing.

He said: “The decision taken by the Labour group to buy Pacific Exchange is simply wrong. The council needs every penny it has to deliver vital services, not buying fancy offices.

“It’s not as if the council doesn’t have enough office space as it is. In fact it seems to be trying to sell or rent out a lot of that office space right now.

“This just seems like a total waste of money.

“When the council is closing services like the mobile library service and Hands on History, this will rightly go down very badly with the public.”

Labour Cabinet member Phil Webster said: “We will use Pacific Exchange as a transition point as part of the city council’s building rationalisation.

“We buy and sell property all the time and aim to raise £2m capital receipts annually.

“We bought it at a discounted price and expect it to appreciate over the years.”