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Council spends over £25,000 protecting empty West Hampstead offices from squatters since 2012

PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 March 2014

Cllr Theo Blackwell.

Cllr Theo Blackwell.

Archant

Camden Council has paid a security firm more than £25,000 to protect vacant former council offices in West Hampstead over the last 16 months.

In response to a written question at full council on Monday, Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, revealed that the council has spent £25,414 securing 156 West End Lane.

The offices, above builders’ merchants Travis Perkins, were ­vacated by housing and adult ­social care staff in November 2012 ahead of the building’s sale.

It is one of numerous council ­offices being sold in preparation for the council’s move to new headquarters in King’s Cross this summer.

Cllr Blackwell said that the ­expenditure ensured “twice daily and twice nightly patrols of the internal and external areas of the building” in order to “reduce the risk of illegal occupation of the premises due to squatting”.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Keith Moffitt said: “It was planned for a long time that this building was going to be sold off. One of our arguments has been, ‘Surely we can find a temporary use for this rather than having it stand empty?’ Instead it’s been left empty, it’s very shocking.”

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