PUBLIC buildings and land have gone up for sale in a controversial bid to raise money for Hyndburn Council.
Nothing is off limits and all bids have been invited by council leader Peter Britcliffe, who also said other councils might be drafted in to help Hyndburn deliver services.
He said: "I am announcing a bonfire of bureaucracy in relation to land and buildings in council ownership.
"To get this bonfire started I would like to invite any resident, group or business that is interested in purchasing any council-owned land or building to get in touch.
"Rightly or wrongly, I know that many people have developed the impression the council would not be interested in selling land holdings, or that the process is so long-winded as to make it not worthwhile."
Stunned councillors at last week's full council meeting listened as he added: "From tonight all that will change.
"We want to encourage people to let us know when they are interested because we think it will benefit us all.
"It will benefit the council because it will mean we can free up dormant resources.
"It will benefit the individual who buys the land because he will be able to add that extra bit of space to his garden or erect the garage or do whethever he wants the land for.
"And it will benefit the community at large because we will have fewer pieces of land that are either maintained at the taxpayers' expense or left to become local eyesores."
Outside the meeting Councillor Britcliffe denied the sale was a result of last year's £1.8M cash crisis, and said it was essential the council finds imaginative ways to make savings and provide services.
He announced a comprehensive efficiency review of how the authority provides services, which would examine:
- Collaborating with other councils.
- Using private businesses to run services.
- Selling assets and shareholdings.
Labour leader, Councillor Jean Battle, said: "It came as a complete surprise to us. We don't know how they're going to go about it.
"But we seem to be in a desperate state of affairs selling off anything the council owns."
Councillor Tim O'Kane added: "They're talking about a bonfire of bureaucracy but this will create a huge amount of work for the council's legal services and will open the door to all sorts of bids."