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Independents Query the financial 'Black Hole' of Dorking

Given the vast sums of ratepayers’ money being spent on an empty building for over ten years, Ashtead Independent Councillor Chris Hunt questions why the ‘Black Hole’ of Dorking, Pippbrook House, is not being used.

The former public library has lain empty since the County Council moved out from the Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) owned building ten years ago and moved into a new state of the art public library elsewhere in Dorking.

Since that time the old Victorian building has lain empty and is costing MVDC up to £70-£75,000 a year to maintain. When these figures were revealed by the LibDem run council in September 2020, it was suggested that the costs would rise over time. Back then, the council suggested that the building would be leased to a community group. However, to this day, the building remains empty.

Councillor Hunt said that he recognises that Ashtead ratepayers have to pay their fair share of the burden of spending on those council run facilities that serve residents beyond their immediate localities with the leisure centres in Dorking and Leatherhead being good examples. However, what was more questionable was for local ratepayers having to support what he described as the “black hole of Dorking” into which Ashtead residents, along with the rest of Mole Valley were having to support.

Councillor Hunt is therefore submitting a question to the next full MVDC Council Meeting on 6th December asking why Pippbrook House remains a burden on ratepayers given even after ten years have elapsed since the old library closed.

“We understand that we in Ashtead have to pay our fair share of council spending. However, whether you live in Ashtead or elsewhere in Mole Valley it is important that the Council spends money wisely, particularly at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch because of the cost-of-living crisis,” said Councillor Hunt.

“Residents need to know just how much money has been spent and why there appears to be no urgency in getting the building occupied. I would hate to think that even more work has become necessary to maintain the building.

The Ashtead Independents say they are trying to inject greater urgency among the Liberal Democrats who control MVDC, particularly given the tenth anniversary of the building being vacant has, on 1 November, just been passed.


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