In a recent Observer column Cllr. Peter Chowney, the leader of Hastings Borough Council, spoke about the difficulties that councils are having making the books balance, and went on to describe how his council was generating new income.
He said that a lot of it had come from property purchases, that these included the Sedlescombe Road Retail Park and the Bexhill Road Retail Park and that the council will be looking at further such investments.
I don’t think that looks like a wise move at all, and would suggest that Cllr Chowney and his colleagues could find themselves batting on a sticky wicket. And why?
Because, after reading my national newspaper today, it looks as though he would be well advised to steer well clear of buying any more shops and, at the same time, keep a close eye on what is going on in Sedlescombe and Bexhill.
Following on from post-Christmas reports of poor retail sales on our High Streets we are now reading about Toys R Us and Maplins going bust, with the loss of thousands of jobs, and two national chains of restaurants that are closing down dozens of their branches.
Commentators have been telling us, for some time now, that retail is being badly hit by on-line shopping, and this latest news from the high street definitely bears that out, so perhaps Cllr Chowney would be best advised to forget about shops and stick to his other idea, which is to purchase and develop housing.
After all, does anyone know of anybody that lost money buying their own home? On second thoughts, this is a council ‘splashing the cash’ so the usual rules may well not apply!
Ingleside Crescent, Lancing