COUNCIL chiefs are showing no signs of letting up on their investment strategy – but insist they will be 'open and transparent'.

A pre-budget report for 2020-2024 will come before the cabinet at the Town Hall on Monday.

In her report, deputy leader Cllr Cathy Mitchell, portfolio holder for corporate resources, says the town would raise an additional £3.6 million a year if it increased its council tax to the average of the north west authorities, as well as an additional £41 million if it received the average amount of funding per home from Government.

As part of its investment strategy, the council has bought Birchwood Park for £211 million and paid almost £30 million for a 33 per cent share in Redwood Bank.

It says the investments are being made to offset the impact of cuts in Government funding by boosting income, such as through rent on the properties it has bought.

Cllr Mitchell insists the ‘benefit of this entrepreneurial action becomes increasingly important’ as the authority moves towards 2020-24.

In her report, she added: “As budget proposals arise it is intended that these will go out for public consultation there and then, rather than waiting for the usual six-week period over the winter.

“The consultation will be open and transparent to allow the public to gain a more focused understanding of what the proposal is and the impact it will have.

“If the public are averse to the proposal, they will be actively encouraged to submit alternatives for consideration.

“Against a background of perennial low levels of funding the council has been very proactive in looking for and acting upon opportunities to generate our own income both as a means to plug the funding gap and as a move towards self-sufficiency.”

The politician also says the investments provide alternate sources of funding at a time when the council is ‘stretched further’ by demand for statutory services with ‘little left for anything discretionary’.

Extensive due diligence work takes place prior to the council making any investments.

It includes seeking advice from property experts prior to making a decision to buy a site.