Controversial regeneration company put on holdBy Laura Herbert
October 18, 2012
Council bosses are expected to put the company set up to oversee the town centre regeneration on hold while plans push ahead for Peach Place and Elms Field.
Wokingham Enterprises Limited (WEL) was launched two years ago by Wokingham Borough Council after it took ownership of Peach Place, to find external funding for the regeneration, give advice to the council and receive the transfer of regeneration assets such as Elms Field and the Paddocks.
It will cease trading in a money-saving move to place it into a ‘dormant status’. The council’s trading and enterprises sub committee is expected to agree to transfer WEL’s activities to the council so it can become a dormant company when it meets on Monday.
Dormant companies have no accounting transactions, but can be reinstated for trading in the future.
A report into the meeting states: “By moving the company into a ‘dormant status’ the council can reduce its overheads and procure external regeneration and other property advice as and when required.”
It adds: “Although the picture is unlikely to be clear in the near future, it may include the need for a wholly owned company. If so, WEL could be relaunched from its ‘dormant status’.”
Councillor David Lee, leader of the council, said: “The company was set up to assist with the regeneration and it did a lot of work in the beginning. It looked at how it should be financed and we changed the financial approach from external as it was financed by the council.
“At this point they have achieved everything they set out to achieve.”
In August, the council’s decision to pay non-executive directors of council-owned companies, including WEL, £6,095 a year caused controversy with the Liberal Democrats accusing the ruling Conservative party of breaching council policy. But, while the company remains ‘dormant’ it will have two council officers acting as ‘holding directors’ for the business.
The council also owns social care provider Optalis and affordable housing provider, Wokingham Housing Ltd.
The meeting takes place at the civic offices in Shute End at 6.30pm.
n What you think about the decision? Email your thoughts to wokinghamtimeseditorial@trinity south.co.uk.