Like thousands of others I received the council’s newspaper, the Eastbourne Review, this week and like, I suspect, many others the proposals on the sale of downland farms left me puzzled and uneasy.
Whatever the council says these farms have been part of the ‘family silver’ of the town for 90 years and the proposal to sell seems to be to raise £1million.
But hang on a second, they then say they want to borrow £20million “to invest in high yield projects to increase revenue funds”.
Even in these days of low interest rates, the cost of servicing such a debt is substantial. What form are these high yield assets to be? Stocks, bonds, commercial ventures?
Let’s face it the council under all parties has a less than sparkling track record in the matter of council-owned ventures. While some have been worthy I cannot think of a single one that has come in with the projected revenue flow, or for that matter on budget, and I have lived in Eastbourne since 1960.
If it all goes wrong we could end up with no farms, or money either! Any sale will of course be a ‘one off’, what happens next time? And take it from me there will be a next time.
Contrary to the perceived wisdom of the council there is another way, and it is called paying your way.
Instead of selling assets, however unpopular, if these sums of money need to be raised (and I have my doubts) they should come from council tax, and by raising it if need be.
M K ISAACS