THE LEADER of Cumbria County Council’s (CCC) Conservative group has hit out at the authority for spending more than £100,000 maintaining its former headquarters in Carlisle.

The council moved in to its £10.4 million Botchergate building in 2016.

However, a Freedom of Information request has revealed the council has since spent £100,561 to upkeep its former offices at The Courts.

Councillor James Airey said: “It is wrong that old headquarters have been left empty for almost two years with council taxpayers left to pick up the bill.

"To put it in perspective, £100,000 would pay for 2,000 extra pothole repairs.

“Our Liberal Democrat and Labour council need to follow through quickly on their commitment to find a sustainable solution for their former offices. Every day that this doesn’t happen, the bill for Cumbrians is going up.”

A spokesperson for CCC said it was ‘committed’ to protecting the historic grade one listed building.

“Sadly we all know what can happen when our architectural heritage isn’t protected, for example the Central Plaza Hotel in Carlisle,” they said. “Not only do they become unsafe and a risk to the public, but this can also means increased costs for repair, rather than maintenance."

They said that maintenance costs were always part of the business case for Cumbria House, which saw the council reduce its office accommodation from 22 to 2 in Carlisle, allowing the council to make savings of around £1 million a year.

"Other benefits of our approach saw a major reduction in maintenance backlog by several million and the investment helped to regenerate Botchergate, as well as reduce the council’s carbon footprint," they said. "The building is also still being used by local community groups such as a local foodbank, which we are more than happy to support.

“Finally we are working hard with a number of organisations to explore future uses for the courts and as soon as we can share any of these proposals we will be happy to do so."