WARRINGTON Borough Council has agreed to buy sites home to Tesco and Asda, it can be revealed.

The Warrington Guardian can reveal council chiefs approved the huge deals at the Town Hall earlier this year.

It will see the authority gain ownership of the property home to the Tesco superstore in Farnworth, Bolton, as well as the Asda superstore in Hulme, Manchester, which is also home to other leading names including Poundstretcher, Argos and KFC.

The Warrington Guardian understands the Tesco site will be bought for in the region of £40 million but financial details surrounding the Asda property remain a closely guarded secret – with Town Hall chiefs highlighting the importance of ‘respecting commercial confidentiality’.

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It follows the authority’s deals to buy Birchwood Park for £211 million, Matalan, DW Sports, Pure Gym in the town centre, Eddie Stobart’s headquarters and Talk Talk’s former Stanford House site.

It has also bought Appleton House, where New Balance is the tenant, and Atlantic House, where Highways England is the tenant for more than £12 million in total.

The council insists commercial properties are being bought in an attempt to offset the impact of cuts in Government funding by boosting income through rent.

Leader Cllr Russ Bowden says the two superstore sites are part of the authority’s ‘mission of driving income for the council’.

“It is part of having a balanced portfolio – we are not carrying out undue risk,” he said.

“These will deliver significant income returns for the council.”

He also confirmed the authority has a team in place to ‘find opportunities’ in the property sector – and hinted at redevelopment at sites the council buys, including the land at Farnworth.

He added: “Some of the sites do have opportunity for redevelopment, if the council chooses to do so.

"We are in this for the long haul, it is not just buying stuff and shipping it on, these are long-term property investments in order to drive income and support council services."

The Labour-run council’s decision to buy the two sites has been branded as ‘reckless’ by Tory Warrington South parliamentary candidate Andy Carter.

He says he is worried over the advice being given to councillors.

“Only this week we have a respected set of economists forecasting half of all retail sales will be online within the next decade, up from around a fifth currently,” he added.

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“Up and down the country there are big empty retail units where chains have withdrawn, shut up shop and moved as the market has shifted onto the internet – and our Labour councillors see these as sound investments?

“This is reckless spending with our money.”