Concern over North Somerset Council’s plans to make money through business ventures

North Somerset Council is hoping to make more than £1million a year from the Sovereign Shopping Cent

North Somerset Council is hoping to make more than £1million a year from the Sovereign Shopping Centre. Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

Westonians have criticised North Somerset Council’s commercial investment decisions after the authority spent more than £50million on acquisitions this year.

Local authorities across the country have been criticised by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) for putting money at ‘unnecessary or unquantified risk’ when borrowing to invest in commercial property.

The council used a £37.95million bank loan to purchase North Worle District Centre in February, while a deal to buy Weston’s Sovereign Shopping Centre using £21million of borrowed funds was agreed in April – and it is confident its investments are sound and will deliver a return.

MORE: Multi-million pound commercial deals defended by council amid criticism.

Many people took to social media to share their view.

Martyn Williams said: “The only use for the town based Sovereign centre these days is for things you cannot get on the internet such as hair dressing, key cutting, shoe rehealing, nail bars and coffee shops.”

Dave Edwards added: “Even CIPFA can see these mega millions of investments are irresponsible, the gamble is huge.

“Why not donate a few million to Weston General Hospital which is suffering badly instead?”

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Paul Simmons wrote: “People won’t come to town and shop if they can’t park. The loss of Locking Road car park is going to make it worse.”

Andrew John Harvey had a different opinion. He commented: “It’s sound commercial business and will feed into our local services and also reduce (to some extent) the impact of budget cuts.

“I think these investments are sensible.”

Mark Bradshaw added: “Do the council have much choice?

“It needs to replace lost Government funding and is not able to rely on the proven income from council housing.

“I’m no fan of some of the council executive but they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Richard Jackson said: “There are 200 shopping centres or malls this country, which are in imminent danger of going into liquidation. Investment in high street shops over the next 30 years does not seem to me to be ‘sound commercial business’.”

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