How much will two Suffolk districts get from £50m fund?

Babergh and Mid Suffolk both approved the CIFCO business plan. Picture: JASON NOBLE

Babergh and Mid Suffolk both approved the CIFCO business plan. Picture: JASON NOBLE - Credit: Jason Noble

The business plan for fresh investment in retail, office and commercial property has been approved by two Suffolk councils – with £50million set to be pumped into properties this year.

CIFCO Capital Ltd was set up by Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils to invest in property to generate an income, meaning tax hikes and frontline cuts would not be needed.

The 2019/20 year is the firm's second year of trading, with 12 properties having been acquired to date to generate a £1.4m income.

Last week, both councils approved the firm's business plan for the year which will focus on office and commercial properties, instead of more volatile retail properties, and aims to double that annual income.

However, the firm's bosses had already acknowledged an interest in retail "sub-sectors" such as drive-ins.

David Busby, Liberal Democrat cabinet member for assets and investments at Babergh said: "CIFCO's business plan has won cross-party support in Babergh, with our quality investments returning a generous rental income that we can plough back into the district.

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"In the longer term we also expect these investments to show capital growth, meaning a win/win for the council and our services for residents."

Conservative leader at Mid Suffolk Suzie Morley added: "This is great news for Mid Suffolk. We often hear the accusation we should be investing in our own districts rather than in property elsewhere - but it's not either/or.

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"The rental income we receive from the properties is reinvested within our districts, enabling us to invest in local regeneration and in meeting the needs of our residents."

Both council's had already committed to investing a further £25m each this year, having approved that amount each last year.

However, the firm has come under fire for investing in retail early on - including the Peterborough unit occupied by Wagamama and Caffe Nero and the Brentwood Marks and Spencer.

There were also concerns that property was largely acquired from outside Suffolk, with just one of the 12 to date being based in the county.

Penny Otton, Mid Suffolk Lib Dem councillor, said: "I hope that we do not sit here in the future months with these investments which have been badly affected by the uncertainty and the possibility of the new prime minister taking us out with a no deal [Brexit]."

READ MORE: The complete list of CIFCO investments

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