Unexpected item Shop bought by council – but won’t reveal price tag
CHELTENHAM Borough Council has refused to say how much public money it spent on buying the freehold to land Sainsbury’s is on in Priors Road, Cheltenham.
On Tuesday the authority announced it had completed the purchase on Monday as an investment that would help make it more financially sustainable at a time when it is being given less money by the Government.
The council claimed the deal, which it said would see the site remaining as a supermarket, supported the local economy.
But it did not make it clear how that would be the case and how it would make money as a result of the purchase.
The Gloucestershire Echo put various questions to the council, including one asking how much money it had paid for the land and who the seller had been.
In response, the council’s spokeswoman said: “The financial details (including purchase price) are subject to a confidentiality agreement between the borough council and the seller.”
She added that she could not reveal who the seller had been as that was confidential too.
But she sought to clarify why the council buying the land would help it make money and support the local economy.
She said: “Sainsbury’s will pay rent to Cheltenham Borough Council as landlords for use of the site - this is why it is a good investment opportunity.
“That investment boosts the council’s property portfolio.
“In 2010/11, our revenue support grant was £1,118,206 and in 2019/20, it will be zero. This is a substantial loss in funding.
“To enable us to continue to invest in front line services and serve local communities, we need to become financially self-sufficient.
“By investing, we are enabling the council to find ways of funding its services now and in the future. This is common practice across local authorities.”
The Echo has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the council in an attempt to discover how much it paid for the Sainsbury’s site.
We have approached Sainsbury’s for comment but it has yet to respond.
At the time of purchase, Councillor Rowena Hay (LD, Oakley), the authority’s cabinet member for finance, said: ‘’The purchase will contribute towards making the authority more financially sustainable at a time when government funding is diminishing to continue to invest in front line services and community development.
“Acquiring Sainsbury’s, together with the recent purchase of Ellenborough House, highlights the council’s commercial aspirations. Negotiations have taken almost a year and I am pleased that we are at the point of completion.
‘’This investment also demonstrates the commitment the council has in the strength of Cheltenham’s current and future economic prospects.’’
Paul Jones, the council’s executive director for finance and assets, said: “The taxpayers of Cheltenham can be assured that significant due diligence and negotiations went into this acquisition, which complements our already well balanced and diversified property investment portfolio.
‘’The net income from our property investment portfolio amounts to £1.6m per annum and is projected to rise to £1.8m by 2022/23.
“This source of income is critical to funding the valued services provided by the borough council to its residents and replaces the government funding that we once relied upon.”
The supermarket in Priors Road comprises approximately 44,500 sq ft, 187 parking spaces and a six pump petrol station, on a four acre site.
It opened in October 2006 on part of the old GCHQ Oakley site and is the only large-scale supermarket on the eastern side of Cheltenham. robin.jenk[email protected]plc.com
This investment also demonstrates the commitment the council has in the strength of Cheltenham’s current and future economic prospects.
Sainsbury’s in Oakley has been bought by Cheltenham Borough Council