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Lloyd House could be sold ‘if the price is right’

Lloyd House could be sold ‘if the price is right’

🕔12.Nov 2012

Labour police commissioner candidate Bob Jones would consider selling the West Midlands force’s Lloyd House headquarters in central Birmingham if “the right financial offer came along”.

Mr Jones promised to listen to any sensible proposals for the 13-storey building if he wins the election on November 15 to become the region’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

One possibility would be to combine the sale of Lloyd House with the disposal of the soon to be redundant historic police cells block at nearby Steelhouse Lane, Mr Jones added.

However, he cautioned against rushing into a decision and said he thought it doubtful that an acceptable offer would be forthcoming in the current depressed commercial property market.

Mr Jones was reacting to a pledge to sell Lloyd House by Matt Bennett, the Conservative PCC candidate. Mr Bennett said the building should be disposed of “to save taxpayers cash and bring officers closer to the people”.

West Midlands Police Authority bought the freehold of Lloyd House about three years ago at what was seen then as a knock-down price. But Mr Jones, who chairs the authority’s finance committee, said the crash in property values since then meant the building might still be worth less today than the body paid for it.

He said his priority as PCC would be to move civilian and uniformed police staff out of a series of expensive leased buildings in central Birmingham, moving as many people as possible into police stations across the region.

“Rather than trying to sell property in a market where you don’t get value for money we should be looking to get rid of expensive leases and to move police officers to police stations where they can be at the heart of the community.

“With a total of 2,750 police officers and civilian staff going because of Government cuts, there are going to be a lot of half empty police stations which are expensive to run.”

Mr Jones said it was possible Lloyd House would be sold in the medium term. The potentially valuable site is at the heart of the next big Birmingham city centre regeneration area which could see the relocation of the Children’s Hospital to create a development site as large as Paradise Circus.

He added: “We should be prepared to look at a deal on Lloyd House. If someone was willing to pay the right sum then it’s something to look at, particularly if they would take the Steelhouse Lane cells off us as well.”

Built in the early 1960s, Lloyd House is the administrative headquarters of West Midlands Police and home to the Chief Constable and senior officers. A move to relocate the HQ to West Bromwich was abandoned as too expensive in the 1990s.

Mr Jones said he was confident of being able to start recruiting new police officers for the first time in four years during 2013-14 unless the Chancellor imposes new cash cuts on police forces in the Autumn Statement.

He claims to have distributed over one million ‘vote Jones’ leaflets during campaigning for the PCC post and although he is clear favourite to win said he was not taking anything for granted. With most pundits predicting a very low turnout on November 15, Mr Jones conceded that it was crucial to concentrate on persuading Labour supporters to vote.

The full list of PCC candidates in the West Midlands is: Bob Jones (Labour), Matt Bennett (Con), Ayoub Khan (Lib Dem), Bill Etheridge (UKIP), Cath Hannon (Ind), Derek Webley (Ind) and Mike Rumble (Ind).

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