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Low ground rents to be scrapped by Blackburn with Darwen Council
HUNDREDS of Blackburn with Darwen residents will no longer have to pay their nominal ground rents to the council.
The move to stop collecting the annual £10 fees was approved by the borough’s ruling executive board despite fears failing to pursue the small sums would send out the wrong message to debtors.
The properties involved are owned on ‘leasehold’ where the freehold of the actual land still belongs to the council.
The decision means 752 homeowners who owe the council £10 a year or less for freehold will no longer be billed for the money.
Another 96 similar ground rents where one private individual is responsible for collecting a group of them are also set to be waived.
A third group of 290 payments respecting commercial/industrial premises and other similar payments, where 12 are £50 or more, will be reviewed to see if they should no longer be pursued.
Resources chief Andy Kay told the board on Thursday: “The costs involved in the collection of these rent charges outweigh the actual sums collected.
“This is a cost-saving measure that will not impact on the council’s land and property estate. Direct savings will amount to an £7,500 pa, as well as easing an administrative burden which will allow us to focus on recovering more significant debts.”
The change was approved despite Tory opposition leader Michael Lee saying: “This sends out the wrong message to other people who owe the council.”
Liberal Democrat leader David Foster said: “We have not fully explored other alternatives.
“We should be sending letters to those who do not pay giving them the alternatives: pay up, buy out the freehold at a reasonable cost, or warn them the leases will be sold on the open market, pointing out some of the dangers associated with this.”
Coun Kay said the freeholds had no strategic significance to the council and he had not ruled out selling them to homeowners or a third party in the future.
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