£15m added to strategic asset fund to support future Council services
At a Full Council meeting Members ratified a plan to increase Winchester City Council’s ability to invest in strategic assets that can be used to boost the organisation’s income and support local services going forward.
With £2 million lost in central government funding over the past five years and a further £4.5 million budget reduction expected over the next four, the Council is looking to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to its finances by supplementing its existing assets, investing in property and land across the district. The decision saw the Council approve the addition of an extra £15 million to its strategic asset purchase scheme – bringing the total available to spend on investments up to £30 million. Income generated by investing this increased amount will be used to fund local services.
Council Members heard how assets had already been developed to reflect the aspirations of the Council Strategy. The acquisition and refurbishment of the Bus Station for example, improved passengers’ first impressions of the city and made the lower High Street safer for pedestrians.
Portfolio Holder for finance Cllr Guy Ashton explained how the approval of the increased investment fund would allow the Council to take advantage of opportunities to develop the district in line with its strategic aims as well as produce a positive return:
The Council is aiming to become financially self-sufficient within the next couple of years, relying on our own sources of income rather than on central government funding. By investing in strategic assets we enable ourselves to generate new income streams and offer new opportunities for local residents and businesses. Any investments we make in local assets are also intended to help us to fulfil our strategic aims and objectives – in the areas of housing, commerce, transport, retail and leisure facilities.
This represents a double-win for the district - the Council is beginning to operate in an increasingly entrepreneurial way as part of our overall efficiency plan.