Concern over cash-strapped council's plan to borrow more than £1million to buy an equestrian centre

Council plans to borrow £1.7 million to buy a local equestrian centre have been met with concern.

Monday, 7th March 2016, 6:00 am
Janet Blake

Bucks County Council claims that the purchase of Liscombe Equestrian Centre in Soulbury will earn them up to £32,000 per year, and comes as part of a new plan aimed at developing a portfolio of commercial properties.

A recomendation on the investment will be made by the cabinet on Monday, and the decision will then go before the full council.

But councillor Janet Blake, who is also a cabinet member on Aylesbury Vale District Council, believes that the authority is papering over the cracks.

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She said: “The report doesn’t mention how long it will take to pay back the loan or what the interest is.

“They say they’ll pay back £75,000 per year, which according to my sums means it will take 40 years to pay back the loan with an interest of around one million pounds.

“I understand that Bucks County Council are up against it financially, but I don’t believe this is a good investment.”

The property is currently rented out for £119,000 per year and the current tenants would continue leasing from the council.

In plans set out at the end of last year the council need to make around £1.5 million from property before 2018/2019.

Cllr Blake wasn’t convinced this was possible either however due to the volume of properties they would need to buy.

She said: “In terms of the money they want to make I think they’d need to buy something like 46 similar properties to stick to their targets, that adds up to £79 million!”

The council’s investment group led by the cabinet member for resources John Chilver are responsible for looking into properties to buy and have recommended that the cabinet approve further negotiations with the seller’s agent on Monday.

They maintain that they have factored in all the costs correctly, and that the purchase would provide some much needed cash.