Council defends ownership of Haverhill assets

Haverhill golf club is amongst the assets owned by the council
Haverhill golf club is amongst the assets owned by the council

The ownership of several assets, which include a golf course and an hotel, has been defended by the council after it was accused of risking public money.

The Tax Payer’s Alliance, a British pressure group set up to ensure value for money from council spending, criticised a number of assets held by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in Haverhill.

The assets owned by the council include the Suffolk Punch pub in Leiston Road, The Woodlands Hotel on Coupals Road and part of Haverhill Golf Club.

The council’s ownership of these assets was questioned by the Tax Payer’s Alliance, who accused them of risking public money by tying it up in property.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has, however, defended its ownership of these assets, saying that they predate the formation of the council and that, by keeping them on, they are able to keep Council Tax down for residents.

A council spokesman said: “Our ownership of what is known as The Woodlands Hotel, our freehold on part of Haverhill Golf Club, and of The Suffolk Punch pub, all in Haverhill, dates back to investments by the Haverhill Urban District Council before the local government reorganisation in 1974.

“The pub and hotel are on long ground leases. None of the businesses are run by ourselves.

“In terms of our commercial approach, all three businesses provide a rental income to the council, which in turn enables us to keep Council Tax down.”

It was suggested that the council sold off some of the assets it held in order to raise money to compensate for funding cuts from central government.

According to a council spokesman, however, this would be against the rules and not something the borough council would be allowed to do.