Oldbury loo gone for a song

First published in News

A DERELICT public toilet block in Oldbury was one of three sold by Sandwell Council for £105,000 below its own valuation without being put on the market, it has emerged.

Property investor Abdul Naeem Quyam bought the former public conveniences, which included one in West Bromwich and another in Wednesbury, two years ago.

They had not been put out to auction or tender although they had been “surplus to requirement” for several years.

Community blogger Julian Saunders, has unearthed documentation that reveals the Wednesbury block in The Shambles was bought for just £10,000 and later sold for £40,000, making Mr Quyam a £30,000 profit.

He criticised the council for spending £1,200 on the valuations which were carried out after the sale of the conveniences in August 2012.

The Oldbury block in Albert Street was used as a taxi office after being sold but has been empty for about three months and is being advertised to let.

Cabinet member for jobs and economy Councillor Ian Jones said in the depressed property market it was not thought worthwhile to spend money marketing the defunct loos.

He said the council generally welcomed approaches from people with offers to buy land and buildings even when they were not being advertised for sale.

Cllr Jones added: “With the ongoing maintenance, repairs from vandalism, security, business rates and them being a blot on the landscape, officers used delegated powers to sell them to benefit the local communities.

“I think we got a reasonable price for them. The district valuer did not have to realise the assets and buildings are only worth what people are prepared to pay for them.”

Mr Saunders also slammed the council for not answering his Freedom of Information request accurately or within the normal time limit.

But Cllr Jones said officers had been “bombarded” with dozens of such requests from Mr Saunders and other bloggers which were being dealt with as quickly as possible at an “astronomical” cost to tax payers.

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