Babergh and Mid Suffolk invest in seventh out of county property in Hemel Hempstead
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Two Suffolk councils which have come under fire for controversial investments in retail properties outside of Suffolk have confirmed they have invested in a seventh property – this time in Hemel Hempstead.
CIFCO Capital Ltd is the investment arm of Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils which specifically invests in property assets.
To date it has pumped £25million borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board into six sites – all of which are outside of Suffolk.Last month the councils confirmed they would plough ahead with investing a further £25m, and the seventh site has now been confirmed as an industrial complex in Hemel Hempstead comprising an Amazon depot, door supplier distribution centre and removal company. The value of the investment is not yet clear.
At Thursday night’s Mid Suffolk Council meeting, council officers confirmed an eighth investment had been accepted, but it has not yet been disclosed what this is.
Papers from the recent scrutiny meeting presented at Thursday’s meeting said: “The current investments had been carefully chosen. However, it was not the intention to invest any further in the retail sector, but that future investments were to be in the office and industrial sector.”
Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for economy said the “additional information has reassured the committee that a reporting structure is in place to enable CIFCO to achieve its targets in accordance with the business plan”.
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The current assets generate around £1.4m income, with an expectation that once the entire £50m has been invested an annual income of £2.8m will be seen.
But Green and Liberal Democrat councillors have opposed the plans from the outset.
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Andrew Stringer from the Green group said: “If you are using Mid Suffolk taxpayers’ money, why are you not investing in Mid Suffolk?
“If I was an investor, why should I invest in Mid Suffolk if you [the council] won’t?”
Mr Stringer said the money could have been used to invest in house building in Mid Suffolk, which would also have eased the district’s housing supply issues, while renewable investments at other councils had also been more successful and environmentally friendly.
The strategy for the next year was formally adopted at both Babergh and Mid Suffolk council meetings last week.