ELDC '˜could leave Manby' amid plans to generate new income

East Lindsey District Council could quit its headquarters at Manby near Louth as part of a forward-looking programme designed to raise much needed new revenue.

East Lindsey District Council headquarters.

The authority held a media briefing this morning (Friday) to outline potential ideas to generate future income streams.

ELDC leader Councillor Craig Leyland and Portfolio Holder for Finance Coun Richard Fry revealed the council had already seen a £7m reduction in Government funding since 2010 - around 30 per cent of the money it receives from Whitehall.

That funding could reduce by a further £3.9m over the next two years.

However, the deficit could top £4m as grant funding is completely phased out.

Instead, all councils will become more dependant on income from Business Rates - details of which have still to be finalised.

Coun Leyland admitted the authority faced ‘challenging times’ but it was ‘vital’ it ‘looked outside the box’ to raise revenue from other sources.

He said: “Doing nothing is simply not an option.”

He stressed ELDC could not make any more cuts - without impacting on front line services and in particular more vulnerable members of society.

Coun Leyland and Coun Fry ruled out any staff cuts.

The authority has drawn up a list of potential income streams including leaving Manby which councillors said was ‘outdated’ and costing ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ a year to maintain.

Coun Fry stressed no site for a new HQ had been identified but ruled out sharing with other authorities.

Coun Fry revealed ELDC could set up its own housing company to develop affordable housing on its own land.

He said utilising Section 106 funding to set up social housing was another potential idea.

Coun Fry confirmed ELDC had borrowed £20m to invest in as yet unspecified projects.

However, he ruled out following the example of neighbouring WLDC by investing in ‘individual buildings’ - like hotels situated outside the area.

Instead, Coun Fry said ELDC favoured investing in ‘property bonds’ which, he maintained, would produce an annual return of around 8 per cent - enough to cover the cost of the loan re-payments and leaving a profit for the council.

Coun Leyland said the council’s priorities are:

• Continuing to deliver quality care statutory services;

• Providing support for vulnerable people;

• Promoting economic growth.

Other potential ideas included investment in the Station Sports Centre in Mablethorpe to generate more use and more income, and electric power points for vehicles in ELDC-owned car parks.

Coun Leyland stressed the council was determined to raise more income from tourism and was ‘totally supportive’ of plans for a Coastal Highway linking the Lincoln area with Skegness.

He added: “We are very excited about all this. It means a complete change of culture, a new way of thinking.

“We can’t change what has happened. We have to build solid foundations for our future sustainability.”