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The empty office block that will cost police £4 million

Osprey House (C Austin/ Sunday Post)
Osprey House (C Austin/ Sunday Post)

CASH-STRAPPED police chiefs are facing a £4 million bill to rent and maintain an empty office block.

Police Scotland moved out of the building in Paisley last year but the force is locked into a watertight rent-and-rates deal until 2022.

That means it will have to hand over up to £600,000 a year in rent – enough to pay for 20 constables – unless it can find someone to take on the lease.

The force is also facing a significant bill to ensure the empty property doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair.

Osprey House (C Austin/ Sunday Post)
Osprey House (C Austin/ Sunday Post)

Earlier this month, it advertised for contractors to carry out around £100,000 worth of roof and window repairs to the block.

Police Scotland are expected to find £1 billion in savings by 2026 but are facing an £85 million budget black hole by 2018 unless more cutbacks are made.

Tory shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “It’s quite incredible that Police Scotland will pay a seven-figure sum for a building it never uses.

“The whole point of the single force’s creation was to improve efficiency. Instead, we have a situation where taxpayers’ money is being spent in huge amounts for no gain whatsoever.

“It’s no wonder the frontline is suffering when this kind of waste is taking place.”

Osprey House in Paisley had been leased by the now-defunct Strathclyde force.

The offices were abandoned when Police Scotland decided in 2013 to centralise staff at other buildings they leased.

Police papers from the time of this decision show the force intended to try to get rid of the lease.

It’s not the first time empty police offices have cost the taxpayer.

In 2012, the Scottish Government signed a £132,000-a-year lease for an office block in Stirling with a plan to make it the interim location for the Scottish Police Authority.

The offices were never used and the lease was axed in 2014.

Lib Dem justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said: “It will be galling for staff and officers to learn that millions of pounds are being wasted on an empty building while jobs are lost and resources squeezed.

“Thousands were wasted on a new HQ in Stirling for the SPA which also lay empty at the same time as police stations across Scotland were locking their doors to the public.

“This is further evidence, were it needed, of the confusion and damage caused by SNP ministers rushing the creation of the national force.”

In a bid to balance the books, Police Scotland are now embarking on a huge sale of land and former stations. A total of 29 properties have been put on the market, including the former Pitt Street headquarters building in Glasgow.

Alan Cormack, Police Scotland’s senior estate manager, said: “Police Scotland are actively looking at options for the future use of Osprey House either within Police Scotland or new people or businesses from external organisations taking on the use of the building.

“The offices are vacant and have been since April 2015.

“In the meantime we are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building.

“The costs for this in 2015/16, including rent and rates, were £598,472.”


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