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Wiltshire Lib Dems take up scrap metal thieving...

March 24, 2015 9:47 PM

Local MP Tim Farron has welcomed new rules to deal with rogue scrap metal dealers. Rogue traders who buy and sell scrap metal for cash face a £5,000 fine under new laws designed to stamp out metal theft.Or so the increasingly eccentric Conservative administration at Wiltshire Council seems to think. Opposition leader Jon Hubbard put in an ostensibly innocent Freedom of Information request:

"I am writing today to make a freedom of information request with regards to vacant properties owned by the Council across the County. I would like a full list of all Council owned properties including but not limited to Youth Centres that are currently vacant across the County and what the cost of maintaining these properties is. Please break down the costs for each building and include all costs and associated costs including but not limited to NNDR, Utilities, Security, Key Holding and care-taking."

And got the response:

"We do hold a list of vacant empty buildings but releasing an itemised list such as this out into the public domain could be used to plan a trip around the county to strip the copper wire and lead from the roof of each property."

Commenting on the refusal to disclose the information the Melksham councillor said, "Frankly I am astonished that they think this is an acceptable response.

"We have known for some time that this Conservative administration has been wasting money on empty buildings, whilst at the same time scrapping much valued services such as the Wiltshire Hopper, but I never thought they would stoop so low as to refuse to share information with an elected member of the council, with the leader of the main opposition group on the council no less, on the basis that they thought he would go and raid the buildings!

"This outrageous accusation shows the contempt that the Conservative administration has for not only other elected councillors but the public generally."

Cllr Hubbard has promised that his efforts to expose the money Wiltshire Council is spending on keeping buildings empty will not end following this refusal. He went on to say: "I recently discovered that over £11,000 a year is being spent keeping the old Youth Development Centre in Melksham closed and subsequently asked for a list of other empty building and the costs of keeping them empty.

"As it seems the Council will only give me the details of individual buildings I am now asking the public to send me details of any empty Wiltshire Council buildings in their communities and I will place individual requests for each building. Wiltshire Council must stop using these bully-boy tactics to try to protect their already shoddy reputation and accept that the people are not prepared to ignore this sort of behaviour."