Calls have been made for an “urgent review” into the council’s use of Dundee House amid claims it is paying rent on the “Mary Celeste”.
Dundee City Council previously agreed a £23.8 million “leaseback” deal which saw the property handed over to insurance giant Canada Life in August 2019.
The local authority now pays for full rental of the building, which acts as their headquarters.
At the time of the deal finance chiefs argued the cost of renting would be “substantially less” than construction debts linked to the site, which the council was able to clear with the proceeds of the sale.
But there were fears annual savings from the deal would be reduced due to rent increases of around £20,000 each year.
Calls to reduce floorspace and rental costs
Now, with the increase of working from home following the Covid-19 pandemic, calls have been made for clarification on current occupancy and rental rates.
And councillor Fraser Macpherson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Dundee City Council, has likened the building to the Mary Celeste – the ship famously found deserted in the Atlantic Ocean.
He said: “I have on numerous occasions raised at council committees the fact that given changes in working patterns walking into Dundee House gives the impression at times of walking onto the Mary Celeste.
“There are two points arise from this – one is the need to improve public access to council buildings which has frankly fallen away badly since the pandemic – but the other one is the clear need to urgently review the amount of accommodation the council actually needs in the building.
“We are also seeking clarification of the contractual agreement with Canada Life to see what scope there is for reducing floorspace and rental costs.”
A spokesperson for Dundee City Council said: “Dundee City Council buildings are currently being reviewed as part of the council’s transformation programme.”