Aylesbury Vale District Council has pledged to spend £100 million on a new commercial investment scheme.
The new venture, passed by 50 votes to 15 at a full council meeting on September 13, aims to “generate new income streams to help offset the significant cuts in Government support”.
The money will be spent on acquiring and building commercial property, adding to the council’s existing portfolio.
Funds will come from borrowing £100m from the Public Works Loan Board, a government body who provide loans to councils, and from £100k of the New Homes Bonus fund. Both amounts will be repaid, with the interest of the main loan set at 1.8 percent over a ten-year period.
Cllr Steve Bowles, who introduced the motion, said: “The strategy has been developed to support the council’s on-going commercial agenda to generate new streams of income to help offset the significant cuts and probably the end of the grant that we get from government in the forthcoming years.”
During the debate, Cllr Anders Christensen proposed an amendment that would add an external expert on commercial investment and an extra member of the opposition to the panel responsible for delivering the strategy.
In debating this amendment, Cllr Lew Mongor raised concerns about the council’s history of delivering commercial projects. He said: “One does worry about whether these things are being successful. If we cannot run small-scale operations with the level of experience that exists within this council then one has to be concerned as to whether we can run much larger scale.
“Having said that, I recognise the needs for all council to find alternative sources of income and we can’t just turn away ideas and opportunities because we might be concerned about them.
“What we have to do is fund ways of making those things viable and making sure our electorate feel we’ve done the best that we can.
The amendment was rejected on the grounds that the proposal already includes plans to consult with an external expert.
Cllr Ben Everitt said: “I simple can’t see what these proposed amendments add other than extra bureaucracy and slower decision making.”
The budget for this proposal may go to scrutiny in 2018.