Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) policy of buying up commercial property to generate income has turned out to be a divisive one.
Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, while the concept is being championed by the ruling Labour group the Conservative group on the council thinks it’s just a bad idea, even though it currently brings HBC over £2million per year.
While Labour group leader Peter Chowney says: “Hastings Council already had a pretty large property owning portfolio because Castleham and Ponswood are mostly council owned… the council had a lot of experience of owning and renting property.
“Because the council can borrow money cheaply it is a way of raising revenue fairly quickly…It is purely about raising income because by the time you have paid off the loans and interest on them there is a substantial surplus that you can use to fund council services to replace those grants that have been lost.”
Conservative group leader Rob Lee has a different take: “This is a major problem in Hastings… the ticking time bomb of over extended borrowing, borrowing £28 million of public money… paying this back over the next 40 years. On the surface it sounds like a sensible idea. However when you look in to the detail of what they are buying you can see that already, at this very early stage, there is going to be some problems and the rental income will not be what they hope it will be.”
To watch the full interviews that Mr Chowney and Mr Lee gave to Hastings In Focus clic on the links below.