Will Forster

Mayor of Woking and Lib Dem County Councillor for Woking South Learn more

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Surrey’s £298 million commercial property portfolio delivers zero income for Council services

by willforster on 18 April, 2018

My Lib Dem colleagues and I are very concerned that Surrey County Council has not spent any of the income derived from its £298 million commercial property portfolio on Council services.

Previously, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Property and Business Services stated that: “We also have an additional need to generate an income from our strategy if we are to have any hope of raising enough money to fund the services our residents need.”

Surrey County Council, or through its wholly owned subsidiary company Halsey Garton, has purchased 23 properties, 65% of which are situated outside of the county across England.  The total amount invested, as of March 2018, is £298,073,000.

In November 2017, the County Council transferred rental income from commercial properties of £3.8 million into its Revolving Infrastructure and Investment Fund, which is used to support the purchasing of commercial property.  However, one of the central tenets of the County Council’s original Investment Strategy, agreed in July 2013, was to “generate additional income for the council that can be used to provide additional financial support for the delivery of functions and services”.

​Therefore the Lib Dems and I are deeply concerned that none of the income derived from the County Council’s extensive property investment portfolio so far has been used to support Council services.  This contradicts previous assurances from the Tory administration that the purpose of their investment strategy was to support the County Council’s budget.  The County Council is proposing millions of cuts to services this financial year and it is simply unacceptable for them to use precious resources to purchase more property, when that resource should be used instead to protect services for Surrey residents.

That’s why we have called on the Conservative administration at County Hall to explain why this income has not been used for its original purpose, for the income now to be used for that purpose and for the County Council to cease acting as if it were a private sector property investment company, when it is a local authority providing public services to local people.

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