Hartlepool council bosses hit back in row over assets

Hartlepool Council says its assets are good investments.
Hartlepool Council says its assets are good investments.

Assets owned by the local authority are a good investment for Hartlepool’s taxpayers, say council bosses.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has said it’s hypocritical that Hartlepool Borough Council has to ‘plead poverty’ by stating it’s lost out on £8.3m of funding during this financial year, while owning a range assets.

We actively manage our property portfolio to ensure that we receive the best rate of return for local council tax payers.”

A Hartlepool Council spokesman, said

Data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that as of April 1 last year, the council owned 10 car parks, two farms, six restaurants/cafes, one hotel, and two shopping areas.

However, it’s not made clear which assets are profitable, and some may be in a state of disrepair, or even demolished, due to regeneration plans.

But council bosses say that their assets are actively managed so the best rate of return is received to benefit the borough’s taxpayers.

And their portfolio of assets are regularly reviewed and, where appropriate, disposed of to ensure income is generated.

A council spokesman told the Mail: “We actively manage our property portfolio to ensure that we receive the best rate of return for local council tax payers.

“This includes periodically reviewing our stock and, where appropriate, disposing of assets to bring in vital income.

“Where property is leased or rented by other parties, the council takes a commercial approach to ensure that it receives maximum benefit from the agreement.”

Jothanan Isaby, chief executive of the alliance, says serious discussions should be held on what councils should, and should not, be doing.

He said “it looks deeply hypocritical for councils to plead poverty when they’ve got such a huge asset portfolio”.

He added: “Local authorities should be focussed on essential services.

“The time has come for a serious discussion on what councils should, and should not, be doing – a drastic rethink which saw many of these assets returned to the private sector, where some of them clearly belong, would be a dramatic step towards a balanced budget and protecting taxpayers.”