West Lindsey Council’s £1.1m windfall after property spree

West Lindsey Offices EMN-181216-095751001
West Lindsey Offices EMN-181216-095751001

West Lindsey District Council is making a £1.1 million a year return on its commercial property investment, it has been confirmed.

At a meeting of the authority’s Audit and Governance Committee, chairman Councillor Giles McNeill praised a 7.27 per cent return (gross yield) on £15,984,447.

He told councillors this was a massive increase on the 0.42% return it was getting on properties when he first took the chair in 
2013.

He said the investments had achieved their target a year earlier than the 2020 deadline.

It still means, at the current rate, the council would be waiting 14 years to get back the money it spent.

Following the meeting, Councillor McNeill said: “It’s great to be getting a million pounds a year. It’s a lot of money.

“When you think we have lost more than £4 million from the Revenue Support Grant… we are able to fill that largely without going into using our own resources.”

WLDC put aside £30 million, borrowed internally, for property in a bid to tackle a £4 million shortfall in Government grants.

The council now has totals for each of the properties it has bought, including both the cost of acquisition and extra amounts such as legal 
fees.

It has so far spent £15.9 million – with previous investments since April 2017 including, Unit 1, in Heaton Street, Gainsborough (£1.15 million), a hotel in Keighley(£2.49 million), two units in Sheffield (£5.87 million) and Unit 5 Sanders Road, in Gainsborough (£6.47
million).

At the time of purchases the buildings were rented out to businesses including Boyes, a Travelodge, Better Gym, Panache Lingerie and Coveris Flexibles.

The money has also been used towards funding the new leisure centre in Market Rasen and a crematorium in Lea.

The council previously stated it receives a market rental for the properties and is in no way involved in the individual businesses operating from the 
properties.

An officer said no further properties were currently directly being looked at, however, the council would continue to seek opportunities for investment.

The authority says it has a stringent, 14-point scoring criteria including included lot size, location, asset quality, tenant lease terms and covenants.

Could the cash help pool plans?

Speaking to the Rasen Mail last summer, wldc’S executive director of economic and commercial growth, Eve Fawcett-Moralee, said she hoped money made on investments would help to fund a pool at Market Rasen’s new leisure centre.

She said: “All councils are looking at ways of gaining income. We’re looking at commercial investments...because they will buy a safe income stream. We’re investing money to get a return. That money comes back to the council, hopefully at a surplus, which can then be invested in things like a swimming pool.”