Maintenance yards sold to raise cash?

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CASH-strapped Wigan Council may sell off its maintenance yards to raise revenue.

Officers have confirmed that they are considering an outline scheme to close the four existing yards and market the land for redevelopment.

Under the proposals all the maintenance and storage functions undertaken by the premises would be centralised in Ince.

Metro chiefs have confirmed they are eyeing the former Asda warehouse complex in Makerfield Way, Ince - which supplied stores with the George clothing brand - as the possible location. It has been vacant for the past two years since the company, a division of the American giant Walmart, moved its operation to Marus Bridge after its frozen food operation was relocated to Skelmersdale.

But council leader Lord Smith insisted today: “There will be no decision to go forward with this without a strong business case to back it up.”

Metro service director of development Steve Normington explained that the council and its maintenance sub-contractor partners currently operate across four depots for services including waste collection, storage, vehicle fleet for highways and grounds maintenance.

The four depots are Sovereign Road, Lower Ince; Christopher Street, Ince; Town Yard, Hindley; and Frog Lane, Wigan.

A detailed options appraisal has now recently been undertaken to investigate ways of improving operational and cost efficiency and avoiding the improvement costs that are needed at some of them.

But he said that the project remained dependent upon finding resources from the investments themselves and they were not included in the council’s current capital programme of spending projects but will be the subject of appraisal for possible future consideration by the council in the future.

Mr Normington said: “The recommendation resulting from this particular appraisal is to relocate onto one new site.

“This will improve flexibility of service delivery while reducing costs over the next 10 years and beyond.

“We will also be able to improve the environment for residents and visitors to the borough by freeing up existing depot sites for regeneration schemes.”

He confirmed that the proposed recommendation was to proceed with purchasing and then adapting the vacant Asda George warehouse in Makerfield Way because it was in close proximity to the existing Household Waste and Recycling Centre facility. It means that the council could expand onto adjacent land it owns if subsequently needed.