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House leased to former council boss still empty

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Nineteen months after former county council deputy leader Roger Hickford hastily quit his council owned small holding, new tenants have yet to move in.

The house and grounds of Manor Farm, Girton, near Cambridge, have remained empty despite frequent assurances that a new tenant is on the way.

In July, a council spokesperson conceded “we’re almost there” in finding a new tenant for house and nine acres that go with it.

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This week the council issued a brief update.

“Manor Farm is not available, we expect to complete the lease with a new tenant shortly,” said a council spokesperson.

Mr Hickford quit in early 2021 over the controversy dubbed #farmgate.

“Manor Farm is not available, we expect to complete the lease with a new tenant shortly,” said a council spokesperson. PHOTO: Terry Harris

A 450-page report later uncovered the extent of issues within the council caused by the agreement to allow a Conservative councillor to acquire one of the tenancies from the council owned rural farms estate.

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Since Mr Hickford left the house and grounds have remained empty – although fresh applicants did come forward.

One prospective tenant is thought to have wanted to use Manor Farm for a safety training centre, but interest waned over planning issues.

Mr Hickford’s ambition for Manor Farm was to run it as a doggy day care centre.

Since then, the house and grounds have remained empty, and various attempts to find a new tenant

In July the council said a new, non-farming enterprise was being considered and at that time officials were “still working through the legal process so as soon as that is concluded I’ll let you know”. 

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