As our local authorities run like lemmings towards the fiasco that is ‘Blightwells’ retail giants in the county are bleeding to death!
Bunnings, the new owners of Homebase Stores, has announced a £1billion write-down with money flowing down British drains, and warns ‘this cannot continue!’
Meanwhile, cash-strapped Waverley and Surrey County Councils invest £30/50m of our money and our land in the Blightwells, East Street retail development in Farnham!
Surrey – Britain’s richest county faces a £100 million cash crisis … and the county council and borough councils are proposing a huge hike in our council tax bills!
The owner of Homebase Stores – has characterised the financial situation of the British arm of its business, which it bought just over a year ago as, “terrible’ but warns it will not allow the situation to drag on! And says:
“its fate must be decided quickly!”
Perhaps Waverley and Surrey County Councils should do the same, by examining where they are going wrong, instead of just blaming the Government?
“The underlying loss, before interest and tax is £97m”
Said Bunnings Boss – Rob Scott – “I appreciate that what we have disclosed today is terrible news, terrible, terrible for our shareholders, and we feel the pain of that as shareholders as well, but what is most important is what we do from today onwards to address the issue.
“We are not going to let this roll on for years.” He said there would be a complete review of the Bunnings British Arm, (formerly Homebase) and although closure of the stores – which includes those pictured below in and around Surrey and Waverley, would be ‘incredibly costly,’ as it was sitting on lease liabilities of at least £1bn, but admitted, ‘complete closure of the business could not be ruled out.’
The company bought the Homebase DIY stores in 2016
Surrey’s woes will alarm Downing Street as it is a solidly Conservative council and the county is represented at Westminster by seven senior government ministers.
SCC has one of the worst financial outlooks of any area of the country, research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals. Council documents warn of a £105 million funding gap — the difference between the funding it expects to receive in the next financial year and the money it needs to spend. It is the largest deficit reported by any of the 150 English local authorities whose finances have been analysed by the bureau. The average is £14.7 million. When calculated as a percentage of its budget for the coming financial year, Surrey’s funding gap is 12.8 percent, the ninth highest in the country. The average is 6.9 percent.
The council, whose core government grant has been reduced by more than £200 million since 2010, is exhibiting several other signs of financial stress. Its usable reserves will have more than halved between 2013 and 2019, falling from £170.3 million to £63.2 million — far lower than its funding gap. On Tuesday night the council approved a new three-year budget, including the use of a further £23.6 million from its reserves despite being warned last year by the accounting institute Cipfa that its reliance on short-term fixes was not sustainable without drastic savings.
And… still, it insists on funding an unpopular retail development in Farnham that the commercial sector wouldn’t touch with a bargepole!!
Surrey has a low-level of emergency reserves and is overspending — by £11 million this financial year.
At a meeting on Tuesday, David Hodge, the council’s Tory leader, attacked the government for reducing funds. “We’re facing the most difficult financial crisis in our history,” he said. “The government cannot stand idly by when Rome burns.”
Surrey has the greatest number of high net-worth individuals of any county, more than Greater Manchester, Kent, and Hertfordshire. Its MPs include Philip Hammond, the chancellor, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary and Guildford MP Anne Milton.