A FORMER nursing home which was bought from a council for £68,000, then put up for sale by its new owner for more than £150,000 is back on the market - for £245,000.

Critics attacked hard-up Durham County Council last month, claiming Holmfield House, in Crook, had been sold "on the cheap" by the council at auction.

Now the 18-bedroomed Victorian property is up for sale at more than three times the price it fetched for the council.

The home was one of several in the county to be closed last year as part of a shake-up of residential care.

Last week, the council announced a 14.8 per cent council tax increase - one of the steepest in the country.

Yesterday, Weardale county councillor John Shuttleworth said the home was in good condition and situated in a prominent location, and as such should have been sold at a much higher price.

Coun Shuttleworth said that a two-bedroomed terraced house on the same street recently fetched £51,000.

"There's no thought gone into it," he said. "The council talks about 'best value', but this was tremendous value. It's like selling the crown jewels at supermarket prices."

But a Durham County Council spokesman said Holmfield had been sold at the market rate, adding that investigations into the sale had reached the same conclusion.

"Anything is only worth what people are prepared to pay at the time you sell it," he said.

"The question over the county council's conduct over this the issue has been looked at by both our internal auditor and external auditor, who are both happy that best practice was followed and the best price was obtained for it at the time of sale."