Second offer made for council buildings

The council offices at The Cross.
The council offices at The Cross.

There is a new twist in the saga over the sale of prominent Angus Council buildings to national pub chain giant JD Wetherspoon.

Last week Angus councillors gave the go-ahead for the sale of a suite of offices at The Cross, which includes offices of the local authority’s elected members and Angus Provost Helen Oswald.

As the ‘Dispatch’ went to press last Tuesday, councillors were meeting in private to discuss and approve the sale which created a flood of comments on our popular Facebook site.

At the time a brief statement from the council said: “At a special council meeting of Angus Council elected members agreed to proceed with negotiations with JD Wetherspoons for the purchase of 5 – 7 The Cross, Forfar.

“The sale of the building will be subject to planning permission and licensing.”

However, it has now emerged that a prominent Forfar businessman, who does not wish to be named, has come in with a counter offer which was lodged with the council at 4.45 p.m. on Friday.

He told ‘The Dispatch’: “I don’t think the council has the right to sell something without putting it on the open market - it’s not their money. They should try to get the best price for the people of Forfar and the people of Angus.

“I have counter plans for the building but am not prepared to say what they are at the present moment, but they are nothing to do with pubs.”

The people of Forfar were quick to condemn the council for the way in which the sale of the buildings was carried out.

Whilst many welcomed the prospects of a Wetherspoons in the town, others felt councillors had let the people of Forfar, and Angus taxpayers, down by not putting the building on the open market (see comments on page 15).

The “behind closed doors” meeting reminded many of the council’s handling of the sale of the former Angus Council headquarters, St James’ House.

Officials had advised councillors to accept an offer of £700,000 from developers but, after protests, it sold on the open market with the council netting £1.8 million.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday) Angus Council was unable to comment on the latest development.