Thursday, 17 September 2015

Woodley recommends more borrowing

I see that at next week’s Southend Council cabinet meeting Leader Ron Woodley presents his recommendations for the Corporate Asset Management Strategy 2015-2025.

It makes interesting reading but I did have to pinch myself to remember that this is the same Cllr Woodley who led an extended campaign against increased borrowing levels during the years prior to his election as Leader.

In particular it is interesting to note that in the report under his name it states that:

“The CAMS introduces a commercial property investment strategy….to set the network for the Council to actively invest capital in commercial property, strictly to generate long term revenue income. It is important to note that as with other investments made by the Council, these are more likely to be found outside the Borough and the strategy provides for this….”

The report also comments that “Currently no capital budget exists for the progression of a capital property investment strategy.” And suggests that to achieve a target of rental receipts of £1M by 2018 will require spending of £20M.

This will require reviewing “various borrowing options”.

So it would appear that the Administration is now proposing significant borrowing to fund the acquisition of commercial property investments, some of which will not even be in Southend, in the hope of generating an income return.

The potential risks are obvious however what a remarkable about face for Ron and his Independent Party colleagues who now seem to embrace the concept of higher borrowing.

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