One Angel Square sale cost Northamptonshire County Council half-a-million in fees

One Angel Square
One Angel Square

Northamptonshire County Council spent more than £500,000 this summer on fees to market and sell off its new headquarters.

The authority sold  One Angel Square to Canada Life Investments for £64m in a 35-year lease-back deal in April.

Payments now listed on the authority’s website reveal the council, which is so financially strapped that it has had to stop grants to much-needed services, paid out two large bills in July to PricewaterhouseCoopers for the market and dispose of the asset.

Two invoices for £345,000 and £96,000 were paid to the London-based management consultancy on July 11th.

A spokesman for the authority said: “PWC was the agent, which marketed and disposed of the property and these are the associated costs.”

The council also made a payment of £114,000 to PWC in March related to the sale of One Angel Square.

News of the payments comes days after it was revealed the council had wiped out long-standing grants to charities such as Community Law Service, which helps county residents with debt and housing issues and Care & Repair, which provides low costs and accredited home improvements to help the elderly remain safe in their homes.

The authority is also about to unveil an additional £60m of cuts in the coming days.

One Angel Square, which is the workplace for many of the authority’s employees, was opened with a fanfare last September by Conservative minister Savid Javid.

But just months later the finances of the council collapsed and the authority decided to put its new headquarters up for sale.

The original sale in March was paused after the now infamous Best Value review of the council by Max Caller, which condemned the authority for failings across the board.

But it then went through in April with conservative council leader Matt Golby saying that “the advice received is that the sale represents very good value for money.”

However the council’s auditors KMPG, who have not as yet signed off the 2017/18 financial accounts, were still chasing some documentation regarding the building sale earlier this month.

In its September report the auditors said: “Since year end we have been requesting both the valuation of OAS for accounting purposes as of 31 March 2018, and a valuation at the date of sale (for our Value For Money purposes). We are reviewing the first of these but, to date, have yet to receive the valuation as of the point of sale.”

As well as selling off its new headquarters the council is attempting to sell the historic county hall. The plan was met with resistance from a number of councillors and the decision was called in to be looked at again, but it was decided the sale will go ahead.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service