Council to rethink on Sands sale

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A DECISION to sell the freehold of flats and retail facilities in The Sands development will be revisited.

Scarborough Council’s cabinet had agreed to sell the freehold to Benchmark, the company which already owns the leasehold for the properties, earlier this year.

However, Northstead councillors Peter Popple and Norman Murphy opposed the decision, and forced a discussion of the matter at a meeting of the council’s resources scrutiny committee.

The majority of members of the committee backed Cllr Popple and Cllr Murphy’s stance, and the issue was referred back to the council’s cabinet with a recommendation that it be heard at the next full council meeting.

Cllr Popple revealed yesterday that the sum the council were set to receive for the site was just £25,000, an amount he labelled as “derisory”.

He told the behind-closed-doors meeting, held on Tuesday: “It has always been understood that the freehold of the whole development area would always remain with the council, and as landowners we would have some control over future proposals.

“As custodians of the site we owe it to present and future Scarborians to ensure their interests are protected and retain the freehold.

“I believe if the freehold is transferred to Benchmark this will be a betrayal of the people of the borough in whose name we are supposed to be acting.

“The freehold of any part of the development was never any part of the agreement with Benchmark and the proposal should be refused.

“In 1921, when the Scarborough Corporation bought the land, they never imagined that it would be virtually given away to a private developer.”

After Benchmark ran into financial difficulties, the council agreed to cover the £3.5 million cost of the Open Air Theatre redevelopment on the understanding that the money would be paid back by Benchmark once The Sands apartments were all sold.