Almost £2m wasted on unused Northern Ireland offices

Posted on by Rob Powell

Nearly £2m of tax payers money was spent on offices in Northern Ireland that were never used, according to a report by a Northern Ireland Assembly watchdog.

The Assembly’s Public Account Committee investigated the Industrial Development Board (IDB), now replaced by Invest NI, and found that public money was squandered on unused offices.

25-year leases taken out in 1991 and 1992 on offices in Campsie, Londonderry, cost the tax payer £1.8 million but the offices went unoccupied.

Mr David Sterling from the DETI explained in evidence to the committee that at the time the leases were taken out, local unemployment was very high and the offices were an “innovative” attempt to market the area “as a location for back-office business processing-type organisations. ”

Mr Sterling said that he “greatly regretted” that a break clause in the fourth year of the leases was missed.

Committee chairman, Paul Maskey AM, said that an “absence of risk management” had meant that the “Department [of Enterprise, Trade and Investment] was left for 19 years with two white elephants it was unable to let.”

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