Council’s shopping centre purchase helps reduce its operating costs

Wealden Council says its operating costs for the coming year have been reduced by £600,000 thanks to rental income from the Vicarage Fields shopping centre, at Hailsham.Wealden logo best for widescreen 18-01

Council Leader Bob Standley says in a press release that the purchase of the centre in December provided good value for council tax payers in addition to opportunities to enhance the attractiveness of Hailsham High Street.

He says there is a 4.2% improvement on the returns the council could make through Treasury investment, and the purchase is already making a difference to the council’s finances with the net cost of the council’s services being reduced from £16.3 million in the current year to £15.8 million.

Cllr Standley said: “In recent years the council has been delivering more for less, maintaining services but at a reduced cost.”

Commercialisation

He added: “When it comes to commercialisation, I think there some things a council should and should not do.

“I don’t agree with those councils that have bought shopping centres miles outside their areas, but if is it the council’s own patch and can help regeneration, and support the high street, that is something we should consider.”

Wealden’s Cabinet is proposing a £5 a year increase to the average Band D property for Wealden’s share of the Council tax bill, with a proportionate increases for other council tax bands.

Funding

Funding to the council from central government has fallen sharply in recent years and 2018/19 will be the first year that the council will not receive any Revenue Support Grant.

The final decision on Wealden’s Council Tax will be taken by Full Council on Wednesday, (February 21).

• Wealden spent more than £12 million on the shopping centre. Read more in a previous Uckfield News story.

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