Marketing assets

BCP Council chief defends plan to sell income-generating assets

QUESTIONS have been raised about why the BCP Board plans to balance its budget by selling assets that generate income rather than those that do not.

The local authority is pushing ahead with plans to close a £20m gap in the current financial year through a series of divestments.

The exact sites expected to come to market were not disclosed by the council due to “commercial sensitivity”.

Councilors from the Business and Community Oversight and Review Committee said they had doubts about why certain sites were chosen and whether city leaders were being realistic about making sales before the end of the current fiscal year.

Liberal Democrat adviser Marcus Andrews said all of the assets offered for disposal were in incoming production.

“I’m also confused as to who decided on the asset list,” Cllr Andrews said.

Echo of Bournemouth:

“We have been presented and it is confidential information with some assets that are listed, but why not sell some assets that do not produce rent, because we would not lose income.”

He added: “There are less than five months until the full council meeting on March 21. We were told that any assets over half a million pounds require full board approval. We have Christmas and New Years until then, so we probably have up to four months.

“If it starts cold, anyone who has bought or sold a house recently, not just marketing, you have the legal process.

“To successfully sell these properties before the March 21 deadline or the week after, there is not much time left.”

The council’s conservative leader, Cllr Mellor, said there were a “large number” of regeneration assets that should be protected and developed, adding that he believed the removal of non-strategic sites was more appropriate.

Cllr Millie Earl, Liberal Democrat, asked why there were plans to sell assets that brought in revenue versus those that were a ‘drain on expenses’. She also asked if sales were already lined up.

Cllr Mellor said: ‘We don’t think we should be selling income generating assets.

“We don’t think it’s in any council’s long-term interest, but it makes a lot more sense for us to sell these assets than to sell assets that can be of huge benefit to us in terms of regeneration, which are much more strategic.”

The head of the council said the administration had a “degree of confidence” in completing the required divestitures, but the option to borrow £20m from the government through a capitalization directorate” was moving forward and was ready to go if we needed to.”

Cllr Earl said council management was looking to sell assets to avoid bankruptcy, which could be described as a “fire sale”.

Cllr Mellor replied: ‘We have been very clear that we do not believe it is in the long term interests of local government to be forced to sell their assets.

“We believe that if you develop assets properly, use them properly over a longer period of time, that’s how local government becomes financially sustainable in the long term.

Echo of Bournemouth: Cllr Drew MellorCllr Drew Mellor (Image: BCP Council)

“We are so far from bankruptcy. If you look at all the other upper tier local authorities that are releasing these numbers, we are in such a stronger and more stable financial position. »

He added: “We don’t think we should be selling assets across the board.”