ONLY a handful out of more than 600-council owned buildings have been disposed of by Dorset Council so far – but bringing in £4.6million.

The four sites were sold by the end of the financial year in March with another eight or nine said to be in preparation for sale.

The four have been named as the former Mountjoy School site, Bridport; the former Norden council offices at Blandford; St Martin’s at Gillingham and Roman Road, Weymouth. All are expected to be developed for housing.

The council has also vacated several sites, although in some cases they were leased, rather than owned, further cutting costs.

These include Furzehill, the former East Dorset District Council headquarters near Wimborne and Princes House in Dorchester.

Two key south Dorset sites are still awaiting a decision – the former Weymouth and Portland HQ at North Quay and South Walks House in Dorchester which the council has said it will not be returning to.

Maintaining these two buildings alone is costing thousands of pounds each week – the bill for North Quay already exceeding £100,000.

Staff from South Walks House and other offices are currently preparing to move from their former bases into County Hall although many will only be working there part time from June.

A place and resources scrutiny meeting on Tuesday heard that the former children’s services site, Pippins in Wimborne, remained vacant and had not attracted any interest. Demolition is now being considered as a cost-effective option for the building which is said to be deteriorating and at risk from vandals.

The council’s asset register shows that it owns and leases 64 offices and administration buildings of which seven to date have been identified as being surplus to requirements; 16 are leased by third parties; 17 are leased/licensed at no cost as space is reciprocated within council buildings; 9 offices are occupied by a single service within the council; 14 are multi-functional offices occupied by the council and there is one Weymouth office on a long lease.

The council says that its primary focus at the moment is to “rationalise, consolidate and reduce further the 24 offices which it currently occupies.”

Property portfolio holder Cllr Tony Ferrari said the council hopes to proceed with disposals as quickly as it can, but is limited to how many it can deal with at any time. He acknowledged that it is necessary to keep the public informed about its intentions for most sites.

Papers show that the council holds a commercial portfolio of approximately 355 properties or other assets which generate a rental income of £4.25m per year.

Of these 226 (63%) fall within four categories: - 62 Hotels & holiday parks, 53 farms, 118 industrial units and 34 retails units. Most of these, because they generate income, are not likely to be disposed of.