Is the District Council too interested in ‘commercial investment opportunities’?

There have been several misgivings over the last year or so about the District Council “investing” in property – simply to balance its books:

Futures Forum: District Council’s £20m investment fund: “Property investment brings with it the potential for significant risk if things go wrong.”

.

The misgivings continue, as reported widely in the local press:

 

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the East Devon Alliance, questioned the way the council’s careful choices consultation made it look like they were ‘punting an idea about the council being a development corporation’.

‘Casino Council’ claims made over plans to raise cash to cover funding gap | Devon Live

.

Casino Council claims | Radio Exe

East Devon could be seen as ‘Casino Council’ warns councillor | Sidmouth Nub News

 

.

This is from the draft minutes of a Cabinet meeting last week

– although the accompanying debate which the press reported is not minuted as yet:

Cabinet | Wednesday, 30th October, 2019 5.30 pm

Careful choices consultation  PDF 148 KB

This report outlines the proposed consultation to support the ‘careful choices’ the council will need to make in the coming years.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services outlined the proposed consultation to support the ‘careful choices’ the council would need to make in the coming years. She reminded Members that this helped to inform the council’s decision-making process as well as raising awareness to the public of the financial constraints the council was facing.

The council had a £2.7m budget deficit which needed to be dealt with over the next 2-3 years in order to be able to produce a balanced budget. The council’s strategy includes developing a strategy for commercialisation, ensuring the council was ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver the Council Plan and additionally making ‘careful choices’ about the services it provided.

It was proposed that a consultation be sent to 3000 residents on a random basis, to Town and Parish Councils and placed on-line. This would provide a statistically reliable body of feedback which could then be extrapolated to be representative of the views of the district. Other feedback would also help support the findings.

RESOLVED that

the detail of the consultation be agreed with the consultation to commence on 12 January 2020.

REASON

to help engage residents and businesses in the financial issues facing the council.

Cabinet | Wednesday, 30th October, 2019 5.30 pm

   
© Vision Group for Sidmouth 2006-2019