ARE the new district council offices at Finepoint value for money? The answer is a resounding “no!”

The much-lauded justification that it will save “£500,000 of council tax payers’ money year on year” is a fallacy.

These figures were scrutinised in a detailed paper written by Labour in 2010 pointing out that many of the proposed “savings” had already been made and were nothing to do with the occupation of the new offices.

Even the council’s then head of finance agreed that the overall savings estimates were “gross” and not “net.” The Labour figure of actual “net” savings to be achieved was £88,000 per year.

So, £10m spent, with savings of under £100,000 a year. That is a period of 100 years before the project has paid for itself on a rate of return of one per cent on capital.

Is it value for money? I don’t think so! Judging by first impressions, the building will probably be redundant in 20 years.

Even if the £500,000 figures were correct, the payback period would still be 20 years at five per cent. It smacks of cavalier financial judgement, and poor economic management in these very hard times, with the whole thing being a pet project by the ruling administration.

Eight years ago I did favour a similar move, but times and needs change and we have to adapt with the prevailing conditions. This was neither the time, nor correct use of public money in the current economic climate.

Before final commitment by those who favoured these offices was “imposed” by weight of numbers in council, Labour put forward a plan properly budgeting for the development of affordable homes (supported by Government grant incentives) and industrial starter units, on a rolling programme of development, regeneration and job creation to benefit the whole community.

The £10m capital would have been recouped on completion by “selling on” the assets created, at a profit for council – then the whole process would have begun again.

It would have provided long-term employment and “added value” to the local economy but was predictably defeated by the blind self-interest of those in favour of “Wyre Forest House.”

All it has done is swallow up all available council capital for short-term job provision, during building, and to be used to justify unsubstantiated running cost savings which will never be seen by the residents of Wyre Forest in any tangible form.

HOWARD MARTIN Parliamentary Spokesman Wyre Forest Labour Party and Labour district councillor