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Mid Sussex District Council buys retail units in £5m deal

Mid Sussex District Council has bought two retail units in a deal worth £5m to generate income for the local authority.

The council has agreed a deal to purchase the freehold of two retail warehouses on London Road, Burgess Hill, one of which is currently occupied by Halfords.

The second is currently vacant following the closure of Carpetright, but the council is already in negotiations with a leading gym operator to take over the lease of the second unit.

Many other local authorities have also bought commercial properties in recent years in a bid to make up the funding shortfall from central government.

The 2019 State of Local Government Finance Survey, which was published in February by the Local Government Information Unit think tank and the Municipal Journal revealed 55% of councils are considering buying investment properties and using them as a source of income.

In November last year, West Sussex County Council bought an office block for £11.25m in Crawley to secure ‘new, long-term funding sources for the services it provides to its residents.’

According to Mid Sussex DC, the amount of cash it has reduced dramatically in recent years.

In 2010, Mid Sussex it received £6.4 million in Revenue Support Grant towards the provision of local public services but this has fallen every year and hit zero in 2018.

The council said the purchase of the two retail warehouses in Burgess Hill will provide a sizeable rental income that will help provide the local with a stronger financial platform for the future.

‘Funding for local councils has reduced dramatically during the last decade and in Mid Sussex we are constantly working to find new ways of making our money go further,’ said council leader, Cllr Judy Llewellyn-Burke.

‘The income we receive from council tax only covers around one-third of the cost of providing Council services in Mid Sussex so we must generate the additional income ourselves with investments like this one.

‘I’m proud that Mid Sussex District Council is taking its responsibilities seriously and planning for a secure financial future. Investments like this ensure that council money is working hard for the people of Mid Sussex,’ said Cllr Llewellyn-Burke.

‘Our long-term goal is to be 100% financially self-sufficient so, no matter what happens at the national government level, we will have secure funding streams in place to deliver our services for local people.’

Read the New Start feature on whether councils gambling on their future buying shopping centres here.

Photo by Mastersenaiper (Pixabay)

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