Council sets up ‘commercial arm’ to offset cost of services

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council has launched its own money-making business with the aim of generating income to offset the cost of the services it provides.

The authority, which has warned that it faces “tough challenges ahead” and further cuts in government support, initially plans to offer its expertise in CCTV monitoring and other security services to public bodies and businesses through HDC Ventures Ltd which will become the council’s commercial arm.

Information available from Companies House shows that the business had capital of £100,000 in July last year.

It also shows the council’s chief executive, Jo Lancaster, was appointed a director in July 2017 and Councillor Daryl Brown, Councillor Sarah Conboy and Oliver Morley, corporate director, became directors in September last year. The day-to-day running of the business will be in the hands of the directors.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council held on Monday (March 26) the authority was recommended to set up a shareholder board consisting of the executive leader and chairman of the cabinet, the deputy executive leader and executive member for housing and planning, the responsible executive member and the executive member for resources.

The matter was deferred, however, until after the start of the new municipal year.

The job of the shareholder board will be to take decisions on behalf of the council, the sole shareholder.

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Cllr Brown, executive member for commercial and shared services, said: “Huntingdonshire District Council has successfully established a Local Authority Trading Company HDCV LTD. This board will oversee the creation of a number of joint business ventures and commercial agreements.

“This important step forward will establish the commercial channel to provide opportunities to increase income, and where possible, reduce costs of the existing council services.”

Cllr Brown said: “Generating commercial income will allow the council to reach its target to be financially self-sufficient and importantly reduce the burden on our tax payers.

“An example of how this will be done is to offer CCTV monitoring and related security services to other public bodies and businesses.

He added: “Income generated through future commercial ventures will protect the council’s existing investment in many essential services, including CCTV.

“Creating new business will enhance the resilience of council services and create the commercial potential of a business equipped to service a wider range of customers across the public, private and third sectors.”

The council, which increased council tax for the average Band D property by two per cent this year, plans to be financially self-sufficient by 2020 in the face of a reduced funding from central Government and will use the new company to generate income.