West Lindsey District Council spends £6m to purchase Gainsborough property

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A district council leader is promising further investment as his authority announces its ‘most significant’ £6.1 million spend so far — this time on a local property.

West Lindsey District Council confirmed it has purchased Unit 5 on Sanders Road in Gainsborough, currently let to Coveris Flexibles.

It brings the total investment made by the authority since April 2017 to nearly £14 million — including a hotel in Keighley (£2.35 million), and two units in Sheffield totalling (£5.545 million).

The council has set aside £30 million for property investments, which it is hoped will help tackle a shortfall in government grants of £4 million since 2012 — with tougher cuts on the horizon.

This means it still has £17 million potentially in the coffers, and council leader Jeff Summers has confirmed more purchases are on the horizon — the authority has already confirmed a second Gainsborough property is under consideration.

The council makes return on the properties through the rent to the businesses leasing them – with £439,000 through rent brought in through the Sheffield properties and £159,430 through the hotel.

The return from the latest investment has not been revealed at the time of publication.

Coun Summers said: “We cannot sit back and take the cuts to our budget without doing everything we can to bring in extra money to help maintain and improve the services that matter most, to local people.

“That is the basis for our property investment strategy.”

He said the authority had been open and transparent about its actions and had consulted with residents.

“We have also made it very clear that our investments, whether they are inside or outside the district, will ultimately support services and be put back into the economic regeneration and growth of our district,” he added.

“We’re trying to generate the best possible return for our residents and will therefore consider investing in opportunities wherever they arise.”

He added that the council was accessing ‘sound’ financial and legal knowledge, and took care to follow ‘tough guidelines’.

Coun Summers previously said that so far there had been few investment opportunities in the district.

It’s also been suggested some of the money made could go towards projects such as a new swimming pool for Market Rasen.

Richard Brooke of Cushman & Wakefield, who worked with the council on purchasing the property, called the purchase the “most significant in terms of lot size and portfolio weighting”.

Ian Knowles, executive director at the authority, said councils have to do things differently in order to deliver services for local people.

He said: “We are not alone in our approach to investment opportunities.

Mr Knowles added: “If suitable investment properties became available in West Lindsey it is likely the council would be interested in adding to its portfolio, but the sites have to meet the same criteria as all other investment properties.”

He outlined a ‘stringent set’ of guiding principles including a 14-point scoring criteria.