A MEDICAL centre and former council office block could be sold off to fund a major rebuild of the Paddocks community centre - with Castle Point Council failing to rebuff the claims.

Council leader Norman Smith insisted that any future sale of the building is not directly linked to work at the Paddocks site.

But he did admit the building may sold to make the most of council assets and money could subsequently be used at the Paddocks site.

Canvey Outpatient Clinic, in the former Canvey Council offices in Long Road, closed in March last year with the services set to be moved to Canvey Primary Care Centre, also in Long Road.

The building is now only used for blood tests as well as other tests and the council expects this service could also be in line for a move.

Claims began to circulate on social media yesterday morning, from residents and Canvey Independent Party councillor, Dave Blackwell, indicating that Tory councillors had told residents at a consultation event the former council offices would be sold to fund the Paddocks rebuild.

Mr Blackwell stated at previous events authority bosses claimed cash reserves, developer contributions and Government grants would be used to fund the project, with no mention of the sale of the council offices.

But Mr Smith insisted the pair are not mutually exclusive, adding that the former council offices are only two-thirds in use and the authority “must consider the best use of its assets”.

He said: “No decision has been made at all and we will not be able to make that decision until we know exactly how much the Paddocks rebuild will cost. We wont know that until the public feedback has been analysed and we know exactly how the hall will look and what will be included.

“We are led to believe that the phlebotomy unit in the old council offices will move to another centre on the island, leaving us with a very big building completely out of use.

“The council will look at all the options we have for our assets, and if they are not being used, we have to look at the long term uses.

“The two are not related, but we will look at that building, as a valuable asset, when it becomes available.”

In October last year, it was agreed that building a new Paddocks would be the preferred option, rather than regenerating the current site.

The decision surrounding the future of the centre has seen campaigners demonstrate outside of the council’s offices in Kiln Road, Benfleet, in favour of a revamp.

A petition was launched to ‘save the Paddocks’ from demolition. which received thousands of signatures from across the community.

The council’s latest report estimated that a refurbishment of the hall would cost £4.1million, just £200,000 less than demolishing and replacing the building entirely.