The council said that the rental income also contributed towards frontline services
The Labour administration set up a property investment fund five years ago for buying assets such as car parks, business units, and other buildings which would generate a financial return. And, Swansea council has quietly snapped up leases for seven such assets since 2016.
Investment decisions have been made behind closed doors but the council has, following a freedom of information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, confirmed it has spent £14,915,000 to date. This sum excludes stamp duty, legal costs and agents’ costs.
The seven leases are for multi-storey car parks in Orchard Street and The Kingsway, the Quay West building in Quay Parade, and four plots at Swansea Enterprise Park. The council already held the freehold for these sites.
In its response the council said: The fund was set up with a view to acquiring sites of strategic importance and future regeneration/redevelopment potential and to produce a steady financial yield from rental income.
Among the benefits of the fund is that it has enabled the council to upgrade some of the buildings, where necessary, to provide small and medium-sized business rental opportunities that were in demand but not readily available, the council said.
The rental income, it added, also contributed towards frontline services.
The fund has a board which keeps an eye out for and discusses new opportunities. Purchases are subject to approval by cabinet and for acquisitions exceeding £1m cabinet makes the final decision.
Financial rules and regulations must be followed and opposition parties can ask to scrutinise proposed acquisitions before the decision is made. The council said it has received no such requests to date.
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