CONWY council’s taxpayers have been floored – by a £636,000 “sinking fund”.

That’s the sum it’s so far cost the council because of a 35-year lease deal signed in 2016 to park bin lorries and gritters in a commerce park at Mochdre.

Then it was discovered that the floor wasn’t strong enough. The landlord agreed to freeze rent last year while problems were sorted out but now payments – of thousands of pounds each month – have resumed.

Experts with experience on London’s Crossrail have been brought in, using seismic surveys to check the foundations, and outside solicitors have also been engaged. Luckily a refund has been obtained for business rates.

Jane Richardson, a strategic director for Conwy council explained : “The council is in regular, ongoing , positive dialogue with the landlord and we have been exploring a range of solutions with them. It is important to note that the property was sold after the council signed the lease so the current landlord inherited this situation.

“We have a clear understanding that the concrete slab which forms the floor of the building is not fit for our purpose. What is still not clear is whether the foundations would be strong enough to withstand having the heavy vehicles and machinery in the building that we would require.

“We have been working with the landlord to undertake surveys to gain a greater understanding of the condition of the foundations. This is clearly very specialised work. It has taken some time to bring in the right experts and the tests themselves have been difficult to undertake.

“The council and landlord have continued to meet while these tests were being undertaken. We anticipate getting the results of these tests within the next few weeks. Once we have this information we will be in a much better position to know how we can best proceed.”

The problem comes at a sensitive time for the council, which has imposed a record-breaking 9.6% rise for council taxpayers. It has blamed “government cuts” for difficulties including financing of music in schools. Controversially Conwy has introduced once-a-month black bin collections.

Jeremy Hutton, policy analyst at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said : "Despite clobbering residents with colossal council tax rises, Conwy councillors are still letting cash go to waste with badly thought out decisions like this.

"As our research has shown, local authorities are often hording empty properties or not putting buildings to good use, creating hollow high streets and whacking council taxpayers with charges for security, insurance and maintenance.

"Council bosses should be taking the blame for these strategic blunders and refocusing their efforts on cutting waste, to make sure residents aren't left footing the bill for their failures."

A local resident who complained to the Welsh Ombudsman was told that because he had not “suffered a personal injustice or hardship,” despite the recent record rise in council tax, it was not a complaint that could be investigated. It was suggested instead that the Wales Audit Office should be contacted “whose role is to monitor how public bodies manage and spend public money.” ENDS