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MPs question fall in Highways Agency property values

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POOR MAINTENANCE of properties, a lack of works supervision and poor record keeping were to blame for a 32% drop in value of Highways Agency-owned property, MPs heard this week.

The powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee demanded to know why the Agency lost on average £33,000 per property due to vandalism - a total of £112M across the portfolio since 1994.

Highways Agency chief executive Peter Nutt said 'We are not proud of our record. However, since 1997 we have appointed internal auditors to check our records. Originally we would only maintain a property if we could get value for money renting it. We now recognise we are more likely to sell the property if it is well kept.'

Nutt assured the committee that in the past two years the Agency had been operating a system of surveying and recording properties.

He added that properties were often not put up for sale as soon as they could be as they did not want to flood the local market. 'We are taking properties to auction if they haven't been sold within six months,' he said.

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