IN the last three years, the Isle of Wight Council has sold off 18 public spaces for more than £20.5 million.

Since 2015, the council has sold off primary schools, youth centres and public toilets, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed this week.

The most amount of money was generated by the £17.75m sale of green land off St George's Way, where the new Asda store has been built.

Other sales included £551,000 for the former Gatten and Lake Primary School, £430,000 for a children's centre in Newport and £250,000 for Bembridge Primary School.

The council said all sites were marketed so it received best value for its interest.

This council only provided partial information to TBIJ. Details of sale price, or who the asset was sold or transferred to, and postcode information were incomplete.

Portsmouth sold off just £2 million in assets over the same period, while Hampshire sold off £44.6 million in assets. Southampton sold 175 public spaces for £26.5 million.

A full list of the sold assets can be seen online.

More than £9.1 billion has been raised by councils across the country through the sale of property, as councils have been forced to take measures to stay in the black and central government funding has been cut by 60 per cent since 2010.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said: “The headline £20m figure mainly relates to the council's disposal of green field land off St Georges Way for the new Asda store at £17.75m.

“The remaining sites were largely identified as surplus to service requirements and which the council decided to dispose of for a variety of purposes including the delivery of new homes, including affordable homes for rent via registered social landlords, a new Free School in Ventnor and new facilities at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, Newport.

“In all cases the sites were marketed or valued to ensure the council received best value for its interest.”

Island Labour chair, Julian Critchley, said "Proportional to the population size, the Isle of Wight Council has sold off more of our public assets than any neighbouring council, and has one of the highest rates of per-capita asset-stripping in the South of England."

"When an asset is owned by the council, it is held in trust for all of us. When it's sold off to private interests, we all lose the value and use of that asset.

"This is an incredibly short-sighted approach to a publicly-owned estate which, once gone, will not be easily rebuilt.

"We know the council's next target for offloading an essential part of our common heritage is Ryde Harbour.

"This is akin to the asset-stripping of our entire community. The council needs to place a moratorium on any further disposals of public assets."