A new company which could see a district council and the private sector work together to get investments into key sites across South Kesteven has been given the green light.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee members at SKDC grilled council leader Matthew Lee on plans for the new DeliverSK partnership, which will see the council put aside an up to £500k shareholder loan to cover the cost of the first six months.
It will also pay up to £100k for legal and financial advice and other set-up costs of the new private sector endeavour.
The move will see the authority go in 50:50 with a private sector organisation to create the new business, with the company of the district’s choosing also match-funding the council’s down-payment.
Some of the profits made by the investments will be fed back into the council.
During the meeting, councillors raised concerns over the scrutiny of the new organisation — namely that since it will be a private sector company, it will not be held to account the same as the public realm.
Councillor Lee, who along with chief executive will take up leadership positions on DeliverSK, said following the meeting: “We have all of the normal processes to make sure we’re investing public money really well, but sometimes we have large chunks of land that are sitting and it could be redeveloped, it could be regenerated.
“What we’re seeking to do is put those chunks of land into a company with private sector money to get them built so that there’s an economic benefit for local people.
“It’s really important, if the economy grows here opportunities grow here. It’s more of an appealing place for people to come and live.
“We need to use all the levers we have available to make sure this district is an excellent place to live.”
The new company will also work with other companies and landowners on the developments.
“New houses, office buildings and leisure centres for the district, these are expensive items and are very valuable to us as a society,” said Councillor Lee.
“I want people to really enjoy living here in SK, we’ve got fantastic countryside amazing schools but that’s only part of the schools. We need housing, we need jobs, we need skills. A variety of things that makes this a very appealing place to live and work.”
Councillors on the scrutiny panel also raised concerns over the pay rates of those in charge, the risks of working with a commercial operator and the risk of working with private sector organisations.
However, members voted to approve the recommendations within the report, while adding several new ones including regular reports to SKDC’s shareholders committee and trying to incorporate as much of the £100k cost into the £500k loan.
Daniel Jaines , Local Democracy Reporting Service