Wealden District Council’s operating costs for the coming year have been reduced by £600,000 thanks to the rental income from the Vicarage Fields shopping centre which the Council bought in December.
Council Leader Bob Standley said the purchase of the Hailsham shopping centre provided good value for council tax payers in addition to opportunities to enhance the attractiveness of Hailsham High Street.
It represents a 4.2% improvement on the returns the Council could make through Treasury investment, and is already making a difference to the Council’s finances.
The net cost of the Council’s services is being reduced from £16.3 million in the current year to £15.8 million.
“In recent years the Council has been delivering more for less, maintaining services but at a reduced cost.”
“When it comes to commercialisation, I think there some things a council should and should not do,” added Councillor Standley. “I don’t agree with those councils that have bought shopping centres miles outside their areas, but if is it the council’s own patch and can help regeneration, and support the high street, that is something we should consider.”
Wealden’s Cabinet is proposing a £5 a year increase to the average Band D property for Wealden’s share of the Council tax bill, with a proportionate increases for other council tax bands.
Funding to the Council from central government has fallen sharply in recent years and 2018/19 will be the first year that the Council will not receive any Revenue Support Grant. The final decision on Wealden’s Council Tax will be taken by Full Council on 21 February.