Surrey County Council Cabinet member Tony Samuels has spoken at a national event looking at how public services can save money by managing property more effectively.
Mr Samuels told the Inside Government conference* that Surrey has joined forces with Hampshire County Council on property projects to drive down costs.
He highlighted the council’s work through the Surrey First** initiative to deliver better value for money by co-operating more closely with other public sector organisations in the county.
And the Cabinet Member for Assets and Regeneration Programmes pointed out that if councils could generate cash through property, it would lead to savings for local taxpayers.
It is estimated that local authorities own around £128 billion of buildings and land across the country and Mr Samuels said councils must ensure “every inch of land is put to the best possible use”.
Property lawyer Mr Samuels said: “The public sector should be seen as a single team co-operating to save money wherever possible.
“Through our work with Hampshire County Council and the Surrey First initiative, we’re already making sure services are better and taxpayers’ money goes further.
“With Hampshire we’re pooling projects and resources to maximise buying power and through Surrey First we’re making sure public services share premises.
“Looking towards the longer-term, if local authorities could raise cash through property, it would help to ensure taxpayers get maximum value for money.”
Among those joining Mr Samuels at the event were Lord Carter of Coles, a member of the Coalition’s property advisory panel, and the British Property Federation’s Director of Policy (Finance) Peter Cosmetatos.
Others attending included Nick Dexter, Deputy Director for Community Budgets and Local Delivery at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and Birmingham City Council’s Director of Property Peter Jones.
It came after Mr Samuels spoke at another Westminster event looking at how councils and businesses can work better together to stimulate economic growth.
* Public Property 2012: Maximising the Value of the Public Sector Estate Forum.
** A partnership made up of Surrey’s county council and the 11 borough and district authorities together with Surrey Police Authority.