North Kesteven

Authority chooses inward investment to boost economy

North Kesteven District Council has so far ruled out investing outside of the district in its bid to balance its finances.

Leader of the authority councillor Richard Wright said the council’s approach aimed to create future-proofing and improve not just the fortunes of the district council but local employment and economy.

Asked if the council would follow the likes of West Lindsey or others in investing elsewhere, Councillor Wright ‘never say never’ but that wasn’t the approach of the authority currently.

“The view we’ve taken is that if we invest locally the whole place benefits and flourishes. So that’s been our major aim not just to secure finances for the council but also to provide jobs and employment for local people as well,” he said.

Mr Wright said the council was trying to plan 10-years ahead, rather than the traditional three, in order to keep on the ball, but added: “We are always at the mercy of Government changing things such as funding. We are planning as far ahead as we can and trying to balance the budget as far ahead as we can.”

“At the moment we’ve got a policy that we do most of our investment within the district because it’s about growing the district and growing the local economy and investing in local jobs so we don’t just look to what the council’s doing but to what the whole district’s doing.”

One such investment is the Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park, which is hoped will bring investment of more than £5m in leasehold and freehold provision.

It is also hoped to create up to 500 jobs as part of the 350,000 square foot development and will secure 250 existing jobs.

Councillor Wright said that the site now had full council approval, had a board set-up to manage it and would be council-led and policy-driven.

He said: “Now we’re looking at what the opportunities are, whether there’s any partners to work with, whether there’s any infrastructure we require, whether there are any short-term temporary use we can put it to and the long-term strategy, with some potential tenants and occupiers already showing an interest.”

The council also has it’s ‘arms-length’ company Lafford Homes, which Councillor Wright said will allow the authority ‘more freedom on the housing front’,

“We’re in good health, we’re watchful of what’s happening with national policy which affects us massively but working around that to mitigate policy decisions particularly around local government finance,” he said.