This is a fascinating story which beautifully illustrates the decisions facing local authorities. Council are a strange hybrid of public and private sector behaviours. Like a business (and not like other public bodies) they must at least break even and use reserves to cover off rainy day outcomes. Like all public bodies they face scrutiny (quite rightly) about their stewardship of public funds.
The Commercialisation agenda is pretty much a lose lose situation - for councils due to have further sharp income reduction in the next 3 years (Met Police need to find £400m recurring on top of £600million already saved) where else are they going to raise funds? However what if an investment fails and the Council lose money? The Council will be found guility in the court of public opinion and may face regulatory action? Tragedies such as Grenfall Tower add to a narrative that councils are focusing on other stuff and not doing the day job. These may all be unfair characterisations but in the 24/7 news glare-there is not much scope for balanced reporting and applause for those who take brave and well considered risks to support their communities.
Councils embracing commercialisation, says survey By: Vivienne Russell 2 Nov 17 Commercialisation has become the most talked about topic in councils this year, with some seeing turnover equivalent to a FTSE 250 company, according to research gathered by Zurich Municipal. The insurer conducted in-depth interviews with 22 council chiefs across England and Scotland gathering findings into the Why are we here? The 2017 Senior Managers’ Risk Report. Report. This revealed that many councils are embracing the opportunity to become commercial entities with one council chief interviewed by Zurich admitted to turnover of £1.5bn. “Commercial income generating projects are the new norm for local government, with some competing against one another to buy and build hotels, harbours, piers, cinemas, university campuses, and science and research parks,” the report – released at the Solace Summit in Manchester yesterday - stated