Lincolnshire County Council ‘unlikely’ to invest outside of region

editorial image

Lincolnshire County Council said it is ‘unlikely’ to invest outside the region in order to balance its books.

The authority set out measures in a draft commercial strategy which will go before the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board ahead of consideration by the executive next week.

Under the plans, the council said that it is not likely to invest in opportunities outside Greater Lincolnshire if the risk could result in a small return.

County Council leader Martin Hill said the authority has a responsibility to deliver services for taxpayers.

“We do look to invest where we can,” he explained.

“But we’re not really in the business of buying stuff like shopping centres; if we do invest, then we will where we can see a benefit for Lincolnshire.”

He added that the county council needed to have “a sensible commercial strategy” in order to make decisions.

“It was important to have a sensible framework so that everyone knows how they are operating,” said Councillor Hill.

Members of the council’s executive will make a decision on the strategy at a meeting on July 3.

The proposals follow the council setting up holding company Lincolnshire Future Ltd in order to deliver services such as housing and waste.

Coun Hill said that the company allows the authority to be “flexible” and to trade and raise income from authority-run services.

Elsewhere, local authorities across the region have looked at other initiatives in order to balance the books.

West Lindsey District Council caused controversy in December 2017 when it spent more than £2 million on a hotel in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in an effort to increase revenue.

Meanwhile, the City of Lincoln Council bought the Travelodge building on the city’s Tentercroft Street for £13 million.

Other councils have taken out loans in order to fund major projects - East Lindsey District Council is considering taking out a £20m loan.

Councils across the region are looking for alternatives to raise income following reduction in funding from central government. North Kesteven District Council is looking to develop a new crematorium within the district which would provide an income while reducing costs for local families having to go further afield out of the district.

Some authorities have joined a pilot scheme launched by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to retain business rates.

However, this will see their revenue and support grant, the main source of funding for local authorities, reduced.