Warwickshire County Council will not buy shopping centres across the country

Shire Hall, the county council's headquarters in Warwick.
Shire Hall, the county council's headquarters in Warwick.

Shopping centres across the country won’t be snapped up as part of Warwickshire’s new commercial strategy according to the leader of the county council.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con Stour and the Vale) explained to the latest cabinet meeting (October 17) that while investment in Nuneaton was fine, buying up property further afield wasn’t.

She explained: “Some authorities have made decisions to buy shopping centres elsewhere.

"This is not an organisation that takes decisions like that - we invest in Warwickshire and we invest in our people.

“We will continue to look at investing in the centre of Nuneaton but that is a public interest investment and not about just buying a shopping centre in Bradford and thinking you just live off the rent.

"That’s not what we do and it’s not the way we work.

“This is about the way our organisation builds a business case and follows through on that. It’s a change of approach.”

A report to cabinet members explained: “The council faces pressures from increasing demand for services, further constraints on and uncertainty about our long-term resources.

"This creates an increasing reliance on generating our own revenue and requires the council to work in new and different ways to achieve its ambitions for Warwickshire.

“Commercialism is one of the levers that can help manage these pressures and help shape our response to climate change.

"The council has an opportunity to help meet its future funding needs and maintain its long-term financial sustainability through the development and implementation of commercial behaviours and practices in the way it works.

“By seeking to increase income streams, the council will be able to reduce the amount of financial savings required, which will in turn help the council invest in priority services.”

The report went on to explain how commercial investments had recently come under the spotlight.

It said: “There are risks associated with any commercial activity and there has been criticism of property investments made by some local authorities, especially those made outside their local area.

“The National Audit Office is undertaking a value for money study of commercial investments and the Prudential Code is likely to evolve in its coverage of commercial risks.

"National developments will be kept under review and our approach amended as necessary.”