An investigation into the sale of public land by local authorities claims Dartford Council has netted more than £39 million in the past five years.

In a major new expose by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, councils across the country were found to be selling land off as they deal with budget cuts.

However, a Dartford Council spokesman was quick to denounce this figure, explaining the total amount does not relate to sales of publicly used land and that the only sale made during this period relates to one in 2015 for land located near St Mary's Primary School in Stone.

He said: "Virtually none of the figure quoted in the report actually arises from DBC selling community land and it is has long been our practice not to sell community assets at all.

"Just £300,000 relates to a discretionary sale of a traditional council asset and arose from the sale of a single residential plot within the borough."

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He went on to explain the majority of the BIJ's quoted sales figure relates to The Bridge, a regeneration project on land west of the Dartford Crossing.

"Almost all of the remainder, in excess of £36 million, relates to the site of the former Joyce Green Hospital that was transferred to the council with the express purpose of delivering its successful regeneration.

"The site, now known as The Bridge, comprises a mixed economy of homes and employment uses and has been extremely successful.

"We work with partners to prepare the land for use and as each phase of the project is released it creates a value which relates to the figure in your report.

"The figure does not reflect the sale of any traditional council assets and is not directly comparable to other councils' figures.

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"A like-for-like comparison with other district councils would involve only a single disposal producing a receipt of just £300,000," he concluded.

The BIJ's investigation, in collaboration with HuffPost UK and regional journalists across the country, has compiled data on more than 12,000 public spaces disposed of by councils since 2014/15.

It found councils raised a total of £9.1 billion from selling property.