The Conservative administration in BathNES is seizing new opportunities granted to councils from central government to use income from sale of land and property to invest in additional income-generating assets and programmes. The move is part of the effort to make the authority self-sufficient financially for the long-term.
The government has recently allowed local authorities to be more flexible in how they use the money raised from sale of council-owned property - so-called 'capital receipts' - in particular giving councils permission to spend the money on initiatives which will generate new income, as well as cover one-off service transformation costs that will also save money long-term.
Council Leader, Tim Warren, said:
"We need to think imaginatively about how we make savings while continuing to invest in services important to residents. One way is by bringing forward planned investments in measures which will deliver long-term savings, and in additional assets which will generate an ongoing income for the Council. These are one-off investments that will save money and help us become more financially self-sufficient and less reliant on central govenrment funding."
The moves, approved in the full Council meeting on Thursday Nov 9th, were however opposed by the Lib Dems, with Cllr Samuel (Walcot) claiming "cuts in the capital programme" were being used "to fund redundancy payments".
Tim Warren said he was not sure if this was "deliberate misunderstanding or financial illiteracy", and that it demonstrated why the Council had been left in financial difficulties by the previous Lib Dem administration. "We will actually be increasing the number of revenue-generating investments held by the Council", he explained.
Cllr Charles Gerrish, Cabinet member for Finance & Efficiency, in commending the plan to Councillors, said:
"This is one sensible approach to meeting the finanicial challenges the Council faces. It's a shame that once again the Lib Dems are opposing these sorts of measures without offering any solutions of their own."