West Lindsey council leader defends authority’s investments

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‘Very few opportunities’ in West Lindsey have met the strict criteria the district council has laid down for investments, said the authority’s leader.

The council has confirmed a £5.5 million spend on two properties in Sheffield, which it is hoped will bring in £439,000 a year.

The authority said the investments will help tackle the withdrawal of government funding over the next few years and make it more sustainable.

However questions have been raised over why the authority is investing outside of the area, rather than within West Lindsey.

Council leader Jeff Summers said: “The only difference is opportunity. We have had very few opportunities in West Lindsey to invest.

“Ones that have come forward have, in our mind and using our criteria, have not met the criteria to allow us to make that decision.”

He explained that the authority had laid down a ‘very strict’ set of rules about the type of property, its location, sector and more.

Much background work was carried out by officers and council partners, including investigating the very structures of the buildings.

However, it is understood two properties within the district are close to being finalised. Coun Summers confirmed one was a new build and the other was around 20-years-old.

He also confirmed one was going to be a ‘190-something’-year leasehold which he said was ‘the same as buying it outright really’.

The recent investments follow last year’s purchase of a  £2.35m Travelodge hotel in Keighley, West Yorkshire, which currently brings the council a rent of £159,430 per year.

Councils across the county are looking at how investments could help them combat a future lack of government funding. Lincolnshire County Council recently adopted a similar strategy, but said it would not invest outside the region.