REVEALED: Surrey's £298 MILLION commercial property portfolio delivers zero income for county council services

April 10, 2018 3:16 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Cllr Hazel WatsonLiberal Democrat county councillors have expressed their concern after it was revealed that Surrey County Council has not spent any of the income derived from its £298 million commercial property portfolio on council services. Previously, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Property & Business Services stated that: "We also have an additional need to generate an income from our strategy if we are to have any hope of raising enough money to fund the services our residents need."

Surrey County Council, or through its wholly owned subsidiary company Halsey Garton, has purchased 23 properties, 65% of which are situated outside of the county across England. The total amount invested, as of March 2018, is £298,073,000.

In November 2017, the County Council transferred rental income from commercial properties of £3.8m into its Revolving Infrastructure & Investment Fund, which is used to support the purchasing of commercial property. However, one of the central tenets of the County Council's original Investment Strategy, agreed in July 2013, was to "generate additional income for the council that can be used to provide additional financial support for the delivery of functions and services".

​Following her question to Cabinet and response on this matter on 27th March 2018, Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said:

"I am deeply concerned that none of the income derived from the County Council's extensive property investment portfolio so far has been used to support council services. This contradicts previous assurances from the Conservative-administration that the purpose of their investment strategy was to support the County Council's budget.

"The County Council is proposing millions of cuts to services this financial year and it is simply unacceptable for them to use precious resources to purchase more property, when that resource should be used instead to protect services for Surrey residents.

"I am calling on the Conservative administration at County Hall to explain why this income has not been used for its original purpose, for the income now to be used for that purpose and for the County Council to cease acting as if it were a private sector property investment company, when it is a local authority providing public services to local people".

NOTES

Cllr Watson's Cabinet question and reply can be found here (p2):

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/s44931/Item%2004a%20-%20CM%20Responses%20to%20Member%20Questions.pdf

A list of properties owned by Surrey County Council and Halsey Garton can be found here:

https://surreylibdems.org.uk/en/document/property-list-march-2018

The Conservative Cabinet Member's quote can be found here:

https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-county-council-defends-38m-14044172

The quote from the County Council's original Investment Strategy can be found here (para3, p29):

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/s7087/item%2007%20-%20Investment%20Strategy.pdf

Details of the £3.8m transfer of income to the County Council's Revolving Infrastructure & Investment Fund can be found here (p23):

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/b18940/Budget%20Monitoring%20report%20and%20Cabinet%20Member%20Decisions%20taken%20since%20the%20last%20Cabinet%20meeting%20Thursday.pdf?T=9