Magazine article Public Finance

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Magazine article Public Finance

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Please air your views via the comment facilities at publicfinance.co.uk or by email to feedback@publicfinance.co.uk

Property's PR problem

* You report that some councils are investing in hotels and offices to bring in rental revenue (Public property: concrete assets, bit.ly/1N9Zo2R).

Councils find it difficult to explain to taxpayers the reasons for investing in commercial property alongside cutting core services.

The investment provides a financial return to subsidise frontline services, but this gets drowned out by noise about upfront costs or because the asset is a commercial property like an offi ce, shop or hotel.

The question should be: is it a prudent investment with a competitive rate of return or a profitable commercial portfolio worth holding onto? Alas, the answer to this question often gets lost in the public arena.

Bob Baber

Labour must be ruthless on rail

* Labour's rail nationalisation plans would take 25% into public ownership by 2025 (Labour sets out plans for rail nationalisation, bit.ly/1REaFtP). This is simply not enough, soon enough, to reap the benefits required.

Also, what if the Conservative government removes franchise break clauses to frustrate nationalisation? …

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