Condemning rumours over East Devon Districts Council’s auction of public property quashed

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 January 2019

East Devon District Council offices at The Knowle. Ref shs 03 19TI 8509. Picture: Terry Ife

East Devon District Council offices at The Knowle. Ref shs 03 19TI 8509. Picture: Terry Ife

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Rumours that public property was sold off to council workers behind closed doors for cheap, have been dismissed by council bosses.

The rumours emerged on social media, and several people approached the Herald, as East Devon District Council (EDDC) is preparing to move its Sidmouth headquarters at the Knowle, to Exmouth and Honiton.

As part of the move the authority has been finding homes for various items, that are unsuitable for its new building.

Council bosses have slammed recent claims that one councillor managed to buy a large mahogany dining table and 20 chairs for £50 at an internal staff auction, instead of allowing it to be publicly auctioned for the best possible price.

A council spokesman said this was ‘totally incorrect’, with the bid actually being for £400 and only including some of the chairs.

However, after the bid was submitted, Exmouth Town Council showed an interest and the councillor who made the £400 offer agreed to withdraw.

The spokesman said they had agreed to use three disposal methods for the items which are no longer needed.

There include the use of auction houses for valuable items and an internal auction for staff and members, for items not wanted by the auction houses.

Some items have been offered for free to town and parish councils, charities and other local community groups.

Items earmarked for the auction house, including a bell push and a map table.

Other tables and chairs are waiting to be sold while valuations are carried out.

The internal auction has already taken place, raising around £2,000 for the Chairman’s Civic Fund’s chosen charities.

These items primarily comprise office chairs, bookshelves, metal drawers, small filing cabinets and other small bits of furniture.

There are still a number of items left, including metal filing cabinets, desks, whiteboards and shelves.

Some local councils have been in touch requesting some of the items.

Whatever is left will be offered to local charities and other local groups.

Once the council has vacated the building, groups will be invited in to see whether there are any other items left over that they want to take.

A spokesman said: “These processes were put in place to achieve the best value for these assets given it was all second-hand, well-used furniture which had a very limited value.

“Computers and phones have not been offered to staff.”

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