Council urged to sell its antiques

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A TYLDESLEY councillor is calling for the sale of hundreds of hidden treasures owned by Wigan Council.

Nearly 800 items, their past long forgotten, are stored away and Councillor Robert Bleakley, will call for a sale of the horde of treasures at next week’s full council meeting, although he wants it restricting to items without any historic link with the borough or its people.

He says that he is stunned to discover the sheer number of antiques the council has in store and thinks that their refusal to date to even consider selling some as part of the book balancing in the face of cuts across all council service is “totally scandalous.”

Almost all of the antiques in store date back to the days of the urban district councils (and before) which came together to form the council in 1974.

The Lib Dem councillor said: “It is nothing more than a council antiques hoard show.

“And I am totally gobsmacked by the scale of all this, I really am.

“Some of these items, racks of painting and things, have never seen the light of day and the majority of the stuff, which has no connection with the borough or its people, should now be sold off to the highest bidder because 99 per cent of residents have never seen them and they serve no value to them.

“A friend of mine has seen some of this collection himself and he has chatted to me about it many times and he always used to say that you can’t turn around in this massive store for the weight of the stuff.

“But I really had no idea it was as large as this and worth as much money.

“This could raise some important cash for the council which could be put to much better use.”

But Council Head of Leisure and Culture Penny McGinty said: “These items are part of the borough’s heritage of assets which Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust takes care of on the council’s behalf.

“We are aware of the government’s recent announcement that councils should review assets and look to sell them where appropriate.

“It is also worth mentioning that any ‘one-off windfalls’ from the sale of assets cannot be seen as a sustainable way of protecting existing services.

“However, the council and Trust is acutely aware of the difficult economic circumstances we face and the need to cut costs and generate revenue wherever we can.

“As a result we have introduced a programme to review all our heritage assets.”