CALLS have been made for BCP Council to abandon “suboptimal” plans to buy back dozens of privately-owned flats in blocks earmarked for major renovation work.

In order to address the concerns of leaseholders of the four Poole Old Town tower blocks – who will have to pay an average of £52,000 each towards the £20 million project – proposals are being considered to buy back some of the flats.

But at a meeting on Monday, Conservative councillors criticised the move saying the council would be better off spending the money buying new council homes elsewhere.

Given the go-ahead by Poole council in February, Project Admiral would see major works carried out to the Drake Court, Grenville Court, Nelson Court and Rodney Court towers.

More than £20 million was budgeted for the work with the leaseholders of the 33 privately-owned flats expected to make individual contributions of between £46,000 and £56,000.

With the charge being about £20,000 more than was expected of those in similar positions at Sterte Court during its recent works, some have asked the council to buy back their flats.

A report published ahead of tomorrow’s cabinet meeting says the council has reserves of £750,000 it could use but that this would only cover about five or six properties.

It says that should the council look to buy all 33 properties it would need about £5 million and that this would require it to borrow money.

“The housing register does have need for one and two bedroom properties within this area of Poole but each potential purchase would need to be considered in terms of value for money compared with new build options,” the report says.

“There is currently not enough funding in reserves to meet this option and a borrowing case would need to be developed. It is unlikely that such a case would meet financial checks.”

Despite this, the report recommends the council offers to repurchase “a limited number” of the flats.

Ahead of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, the report was considered by members of the council’s scrutiny board on Monday.

Conservative councillor Mike Greene he had “a number of problems” with the planned approach.

“The primary one is it is very clear that the cost of proceeding with work is £52,000 per flat and we are told the improvement in price will be between £10,000 and £25,000," he said.

“The council is saying ‘I will pay £52,000 in the end to gain £10,000-£25,000’ so it makes a loss of say £35,000.

“Whilst I can understand the pressure to come to a deal, this is just plain wrong.

“I don’t believe any reasonable organisation should be expected to take this and place the burden on the taxpayer.”

He said another approach outlined in the report in which leaseholders have their leases extended to 125 years as compensation for the disruption be taken.

But the cabinet member for housing, councillor Kieron Wilson, said the issue needed to be looked at in wider terms than just financially.

“It’s not about what else you can buy with the money, it’s about what we can do here,” he said.

“We are trying to help out residents, to support them. We are trying to provide them with an option.”

Cllr Greene put forward a recommendation that the council abandons plans to repurchase the flats which was backed by fellow committee members and will be put to the cabinet tomorrow.