LAND and assets once owned by Wiltshire Council has been sold since 2012, raising £31.5m.

81 buildings, school, care homes or pieces of land have been sold since 2012, an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.

The assets included the former George Ward School in Melksham, sold on the open market to developers for £13.2m in December 2016. The second largest site to be sold was the £3.420m site at Browfort in Devizes bought by retirement home developers McCarthy and Stone. The offices were owned by the former Kennet District Council and were sold by Wiltshire Council since becoming the unitary council.

Other assets disposed of include 28 Community Asset Transfers including Warminster’s Lake Pleasure Grounds, Marlborough’s Coopers Meadow and Trowbridge Allotments. Further community asset transfers are planned as more town councils agree a devolution package from Wiltshire Council.

Reacting to the figures, Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Ian Thorn said: “I am surprised that the figure isn’t higher given that there were a lot of disposals with the creation of the unitary council. As buildings became surplus to requirement, I would have expected a lot of sales to be based around this.

“I am not surprised that the largest sale was of the Melksham school, and that was replaced by a new school across town.It is in the public interest for councils to realise the maximum value for the assets. We should be thinking about selling off the right bits. Instead of thinking of it as selling off the silverware, it should be thought of as selling off the right bits of the silverware and if these sales are the best ones.”

Across England 12,008 publicly-owned assets have been since 2014/15, with sales totalling £2.8 billion.