Call for police investigation into historic hall sale

POLICE COMPLAINT: The sale of Windlestone Hall, near Rushyford, County Durham, has been referred to the police

POLICE COMPLAINT: The sale of Windlestone Hall, near Rushyford, County Durham, has been referred to the police

First published in News

POLICE have been urged to investigate a council's sale of an historic hall for just £241,000.

Durham county councillor John Shuttleworth has written to Durham Constabulary calling for an inquiry into the sale of Windlestone Hall, near Rushyford.

Cllr Shuttleworth claims his own authority acted fraudulently when it sold the grade II-listed hall in 2012 for what he claims was a fraction of its true value.

The councillor spoke out after The Northern Echo revealed how the owners of the hall were seeking a buyer for 7.55 acres of land in the grounds of the property.

According to documents, the plot is suitable for 20 to 25 executive homes, with the proceeds of the sale paying for the hall to be renovated.

In a letter to Durham chief constable Mike Barton, the Weardale councillor called for a full investigation into the sale.

He said: "The department which sold the land and property and the department now giving the go-ahead for the development on the site is one and the same.

"A similar planning application for enabling development at Hamsterley Hall, near Ebchester, was turned down by planners and then turned down again at appeal stage."

Cllr Shuttleworth said he wanted to know what was different about this application.

In response, Ian Thompson, Durham County Council’s corporate director of regeneration, pointed out that an external auditor carried out an investigation into the sale and concluded that it was not possible to substantiate claims that the authority could have made more money from the deal.

"The auditor also found that the sale was compliant with the council’s policy requirements," Mr Thompson said.

“The property was on the market for a number of years, during which time we worked extremely hard to secure an offer that would protect the building’s historic importance and also provide the best value for money for the council.

"Given the condition of the building, the state of the market, the very significant maintenance costs that were being incurred by the council and the limitations on any possible development in the grounds, the offer we eventually accepted was the only viable one we received."

The officer added that as well as generating £240,000 for the council, the sale had delivered substantial savings, including £250,000 since November 2011 on security, heating and repair costs.

Durtham Constabulary confirmed it had received a letter regarding the sale of the hall and it would be considered in due course.

Comments (10)

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8:06am Thu 22 May 14

somethinginsidesostrong says...

"Durham Constabulary confirmed it had received a letter regarding the sale of the hall and it would be considered in due course." Yeah right After which meeting the Durham Chiefs and POLICE COMMISSIONER will attend? The Police Commissioner is supposed to come into his own after such a spurious sell off. Is the Police Commissioner just another financial outlay we the lumpenprolatariate have to make? This is all about De Nouveau Riche and Social Control . During the Miners Strike it was "Them and us" now the same again, they string us any line and diminish us as stupid and that we will absorb as justifiable corrupt sell offs. We want ACTION not Rhetoric.
"Durham Constabulary confirmed it had received a letter regarding the sale of the hall and it would be considered in due course." Yeah right After which meeting the Durham Chiefs and POLICE COMMISSIONER will attend? The Police Commissioner is supposed to come into his own after such a spurious sell off. Is the Police Commissioner just another financial outlay we the lumpenprolatariate have to make? This is all about De Nouveau Riche and Social Control . During the Miners Strike it was "Them and us" now the same again, they string us any line and diminish us as stupid and that we will absorb as justifiable corrupt sell offs. We want ACTION not Rhetoric. somethinginsidesostrong
  • Score: 5

9:18am Thu 22 May 14

tubgut says...

Totally support the action. Next time this lot are up for re-election bin them not fit for purpose..
Totally support the action. Next time this lot are up for re-election bin them not fit for purpose.. tubgut
  • Score: 12

9:30am Thu 22 May 14

bambara says...

tubgut wrote:
Totally support the action. Next time this lot are up for re-election bin them not fit for purpose..
So you totally support the action, but have already tried and convicted them on the evidence of your own opinion.

For my part I am happy to support the investigation, and see justice done.
IF there was any corrupt or fraudulent practise then action should be taken, but I am not going to assume without knowing the details of the case that this was the case.

Can we have a police investigation of the Royal Mail selloff as well while we are looking to investigate possible dodgy dealing?
[quote][p][bold]tubgut[/bold] wrote: Totally support the action. Next time this lot are up for re-election bin them not fit for purpose..[/p][/quote]So you totally support the action, but have already tried and convicted them on the evidence of your own opinion. For my part I am happy to support the investigation, and see justice done. IF there was any corrupt or fraudulent practise then action should be taken, but I am not going to assume without knowing the details of the case that this was the case. Can we have a police investigation of the Royal Mail selloff as well while we are looking to investigate possible dodgy dealing? bambara
  • Score: 16

10:19am Thu 22 May 14

tubgut says...

Has anyone bothered to read the audit report that investigated the sale, the reasons supporting the sale were running/refurbishmen
t costs. It was to become an equine centre, now a change of use to a housing estate???? Rumour has that the hall has been stripped of any movable assets, has any of the promised repairs have been carried out has the present owner looked after it as claimed they would how much has been spent??? Police should go and see take an independent surveyor with them. Of the equine centre where are the plans. Did the Planning Authority enforce the plans on which the sale was justified? Or was it a scam to get the property leave it and sell it off for housing at a later stage making millions for the owner, is it a case of yet another asset sold off cheap and why.
There is much wrong in the body politic from top to bottom Royal Mail give away just another instance of Joe public been taken for a ride Utility Companies and so it goes on anything the body politic has a hand in drives it into the ground and costs go up. Look at the North East is great place to live full friendly folk wanting to work yet we have highest unemployment, child poverty look at the government’s own statistics make depressing reading. Think their record is acceptable?? What of Education, NHS, Housing, UE and so it goes on. Why am I so cynical just read the record of the body politic its totally disconnected from the public, hands up those who them???
Has anyone bothered to read the audit report that investigated the sale, the reasons supporting the sale were running/refurbishmen t costs. It was to become an equine centre, now a change of use to a housing estate???? Rumour has that the hall has been stripped of any movable assets, has any of the promised repairs have been carried out has the present owner looked after it as claimed they would how much has been spent??? Police should go and see take an independent surveyor with them. Of the equine centre where are the plans. Did the Planning Authority enforce the plans on which the sale was justified? Or was it a scam to get the property leave it and sell it off for housing at a later stage making millions for the owner, is it a case of yet another asset sold off cheap and why. There is much wrong in the body politic from top to bottom Royal Mail give away just another instance of Joe public been taken for a ride Utility Companies and so it goes on anything the body politic has a hand in drives it into the ground and costs go up. Look at the North East is great place to live full friendly folk wanting to work yet we have highest unemployment, child poverty look at the government’s own statistics make depressing reading. Think their record is acceptable?? What of Education, NHS, Housing, UE and so it goes on. Why am I so cynical just read the record of the body politic its totally disconnected from the public, hands up those who them??? tubgut
  • Score: 13

11:42am Thu 22 May 14

bowwow2014 says...

im a very synical person but t iseems quite apt that the councillors letter is news today 22 MAY 2014 polling day where we go and put a cross and vote for the councilor we think is most HONEST and will do the best job but on the other hand maybe wrong could just be a coincidence this is in the news today.
im a very synical person but t iseems quite apt that the councillors letter is news today 22 MAY 2014 polling day where we go and put a cross and vote for the councilor we think is most HONEST and will do the best job but on the other hand maybe wrong could just be a coincidence this is in the news today. bowwow2014
  • Score: 6

2:53pm Thu 22 May 14

Ally F says...

Erm, bowwow2014, it's the European elections today, for our MEPs, (not that I have the faintest idea who mine is as they just milk the Brussels gravy train with minimal contact with their electorate, not even prior to the electrions.)

You've got the usual racists, fascists and bigots standing alongside the tree huggers and mainstream parties. Some candidates don't even live in the region; Tory Boy Andrew Lee is from Tadcaster...

There are no local Government elections for Durham County Council, they were held last year in 2013. Only Sunderland has local Government elections in the region.

Independent Councillor John Shuttleworth has been investigating this issue for a number of years now; he has nothing to gain whatsoever from it being in The Northern Echo today.
Erm, bowwow2014, it's the European elections today, for our MEPs, (not that I have the faintest idea who mine is as they just milk the Brussels gravy train with minimal contact with their electorate, not even prior to the electrions.) You've got the usual racists, fascists and bigots standing alongside the tree huggers and mainstream parties. Some candidates don't even live in the region; Tory Boy Andrew Lee is from Tadcaster... There are no local Government elections for Durham County Council, they were held last year in 2013. Only Sunderland has local Government elections in the region. Independent Councillor John Shuttleworth has been investigating this issue for a number of years now; he has nothing to gain whatsoever from it being in The Northern Echo today. Ally F
  • Score: -1

2:55pm Thu 22 May 14

DURHAM CITY says...

what a disgrace once again from this shambles of a council
what a disgrace once again from this shambles of a council DURHAM CITY
  • Score: 1

3:03pm Thu 22 May 14

sue aycliffe says...

I am disgusted that Windlestone Hall was sold for this price.Looking back on Northern Echo archives I have discovered that it was sold after an infomal chat with someone from the council. This shouldn't happen in the real world should it? According to the archives it states the hall was sold at a good value for the council via an independent valuation ; I find this hard to believe for such a prestigious building. Combined with conflicting estimates to repair the central heating and even filling the oil tanks. The whole thing stinks and i hope this is looked into seriously as a case of fraud.
I am disgusted that Windlestone Hall was sold for this price.Looking back on Northern Echo archives I have discovered that it was sold after an infomal chat with someone from the council. This shouldn't happen in the real world should it? According to the archives it states the hall was sold at a good value for the council via an independent valuation ; I find this hard to believe for such a prestigious building. Combined with conflicting estimates to repair the central heating and even filling the oil tanks. The whole thing stinks and i hope this is looked into seriously as a case of fraud. sue aycliffe
  • Score: 2

7:38pm Thu 22 May 14

peter laidler says...

Whether there is a criminal investigation forthcoming or not, this is yet a another example of the incompetent governance of the County Councils senior executive and the Labour councillors who sit in County Hall. I don't know Councillor Shuttleworth personally, but I fully endorse his stance on the matter. Wouldn't we all like to have the disposable cash to purchase an historic Grade 2 listed building with considerable land around it for the price of the average 4 bedroom house?? When will the general public and good folk of County Durham realise that Simon Henig and his cronies are bad news for this county.
Whether there is a criminal investigation forthcoming or not, this is yet a another example of the incompetent governance of the County Councils senior executive and the Labour councillors who sit in County Hall. I don't know Councillor Shuttleworth personally, but I fully endorse his stance on the matter. Wouldn't we all like to have the disposable cash to purchase an historic Grade 2 listed building with considerable land around it for the price of the average 4 bedroom house?? When will the general public and good folk of County Durham realise that Simon Henig and his cronies are bad news for this county. peter laidler
  • Score: 2

10:22am Tue 27 May 14

tubgut says...

The prime issue is lack of accountability, deals done behind closed doors, I thought it was all above board , councilors are supposed to protect the interests of the public, councilor Shuttleworth is certainly trying. Council employees need to be reminded we the public pay their salaries and inflated pensions so we can expect excellent service? We need more like John Shuttlewoth.
The prime issue is lack of accountability, deals done behind closed doors, I thought it was all above board , councilors are supposed to protect the interests of the public, councilor Shuttleworth is certainly trying. Council employees need to be reminded we the public pay their salaries and inflated pensions so we can expect excellent service? We need more like John Shuttlewoth. tubgut
  • Score: 0

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