DORSET’S cash-strapped councils have sold or transferred more than £26million worth of spaces and places in just four years, research has revealed.

Schools, youth and community centres, allotments, swimming pools, public loos and farms have joined car parks, fields, housing and land parcels in being put up for sale or transfer from 2014-18.

Figures obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show Dorset County Council netted nearly £17m from selling or transferring 37 assets, including six youth and community centres.

It raised £1.9m from land at Sandford St Martin’s Primary School and more than £2.5m from Phoenix House care home in Blandford. It made £140,000 by auctioning land for the proposed new Blandford Library in 2016.

Bournemouth Echo:

Dorset Enterprises in Bournemouth which was sold for £856,000

Bournemouth Borough raised more than £4.5m selling or transferring 21 assets, including £1.21m for the former Bournemouth Centre for the Community Arts in Boscombe, £360,000 for Leybourne House care home and £40,000 for the Malvern Road public conveniences.

Bournemouth Echo:

Leybourne House in Western Avenue, Northbourne

Poole sold the public loos at Hamworthy Co-op for £57,690 and raised more than £2m overall.

North Dorset made more than £1m selling 13 spaces including a contaminated tip, which went for £10,000.

Christchurch earned £1.3m from one transaction – the sale of part of the Grange Road Depot. East Dorset sold one asset , 4 Church Street in Wimborne, for £211,000.

Bournemouth Echo:

Christchurch's Grange Road depot, part of which was sold for £1.3m

Cllr Philip Broadhead, Bournemouth council's cabinet member for property, said: “We have been investing in new assets across the town, both to increase our asset base and to generate income.

“From 2014-2018, the value of assets sold, many of which were surplus to requirements, has been more than outstripped by new assets acquired. At the same time, these new assets are generating a healthy return which is used to protect frontline services.”

Peter Scarlett, Dorset County’s estates and assets manager, said the county owned 750 properties in 2010 and adopted a strategy to “rationalise” its estate. “To date it has disposed of in excess of 150 assets. More recently, the county council has set itself a target to reduce the running cost of its estate over a five-year period by £1.7m per annum,” he said.

“Whilst a desire to reduce costs has been a factor, this isn’t as a direct result of austerity,” he added.