A year after buying land for £110,000 Kettering Council apparently still has no idea what to do with it

By Mick Scrimshaw on July 25, 2017

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Over a year ago Kettering Borough Council spent £110,000 buying a small piece of land in Rothwell near the A14. At the time it was described as a "speculative purchase" and the intention was to use it for some sort of revenue generating scheme.

This is part of a bigger policy as the Council has to make investments to create long-term regular revenue streams for itself. It is to reduce the savings that the Council needs to make following cuts in its income. This is something the Labour Group fully supports and is something I personally have been arguing that the County Council should do for years. In fact the Leader of Kettering Council once told me he got the idea for this from listening to my speeches at County Hall.

However these investments need to be made where there is a business case! Before spending public money or taking on extra borrowing there should be some idea of what the investment is going to be used for and how much income it will bring in and when!

For over a year this piece of land has sat there with nobody seemingly having any idea of what or how it can be used. It was with interest therefore that I read in the local press recently that the land was "part of a long term plan". I consequently asked the question at the last meeting of Kettering Borough Council “exactly what this long term plan is?”.

The initial answer I received from the Councillor in charge of this particular scheme was that “I am not prepared to share commercially sensitive information about expressions of interest in these parcels of land. The sites have long term economic development potential”.

This sounded promising although I had originally thought there was only one parcel of land involved, and I told him I fully understood the commercial sensitivity of any plans, but asked further whether “we could read from the portfolio holder’s response and the comments in the press that there is at least now a definite plan?”
His reply was, no!

So over a year after spending over £100,000 on a piece of land, the Council still has no idea and no plans as to what to do with it. What’s the betting I am asking the same question this time next year?

Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.

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