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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Carlisle council to invest millions of pounds outside Cumbria

Carlisle City Council is set to put millions of pounds into a fund which does not invest in Cumbria.

James Bainbridge photo
James Bainbridge

Members have backed plans to put cash into The Local Authorities Property Fund, run by investment organisation CCLA (Churches, Charities and Local Authorities). This money will then be used to invest in property around the UK.

However, one councillor is objecting to how the funds will be used.

Councillor James Bainbridge, the Conservative member for Stanwix Rural, has complained that the scheme does not invest anywhere in the north west.

“Does London need our money so badly?” he asked.

The cash had previously been held with major banks but, because of the low interest rates which have been in place since the late noughties, these have been delivering poor yields.

The situation has been reviewed by council officials, with the aim of generating a better return on money.

According to the most recent accounts for the fund, which were published in March, there are already 22 properties in its portfolio, including retail units, shops, offices and industrial buildings. These are valued at more than £131m.

Of those, 20.17 per cent are in south east England, 16.02 per cent are in the City of London and 5.85 per cent are in the rest of the capital.

Mr Bainbridge believes the council’s money would be better invested in local projects.

He said: “Really I think if that money is for investment it should be spent in Carlisle.”

He suggested it could be beneficial to the munitions depot in Longtown, part of which is currently being redeveloped for commercial use.

However, investment in the fund was defended by Councillor Les Tickner, the Labour member for Belle Vue who holds the city council’s finance, governance and resources portfolio.

He said the money was being moved from banks because of low interest rates. The council needed to ensure a better return for taxpayers.

“We are getting nothing for our investments at the moment. We used to get about £1.8m a year but, now we are getting half a per cent, it’s more like £200,000.”

Dr Tickner added that the authority was likely to invest about £2m of its capital budget in the fund and has a “conservative estimate” that it will receive at least £200,000 back, equivalent to 10 per cent. He added: “There is no growth in Cumbria. Last year we anticipated the economy growing by two per cent but it ended up being zero per cent.”

He explained this was a good reason to invest the money in London and the south, where growth is stronger.

Dr Tickner also pointed out that money made through the fund would be invested in Carlisle.

Dr Tickner added that the council did not “put all its eggs in one basket” and needed to spread money around a range of investments.

Have your say

Now, i dont have as much access to all the information as Councillor L Tickner who posted on here a few days ago. But ive just googled for the information he is talking about. Its all contained in the city council council tax leaflet:
http://www.carlisle.gov.uk/downloads/Carlisle_Council_Tax_Information_2014.15.pdf
Cumbria (page 6)
2013/14 Local Business Rates £17.9
2014/15 Local Business Rates £19.8
Increase in retained business rates £1.9

That shows about 11% growth. I doubt the cumbrian economy has grown by 11% in the last twelve months, but im not the one who claims such figures are the accepted measure of economic growth.

Posted by Winston Smith on 12 August 2014 at 10:48

What a bizarre measure of economic growth. Small changes by big businesses like BNFL will sway it enormously, it also takes no account of the huge growth in small business, who pay a much reduced rate.

It would be like measuring prosperity by how many tescos a town has.

Economic illiteracy of the first order.

Posted by Jonty on 11 August 2014 at 20:19

View all 7 comments on this article

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