Local councils own 580 restaurants, 378 pubs and 174 hotels - among other assets

 
Ashley Kirk
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London mayor Boris Johnson and former secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles campaign in May's General Election (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Councils across the country are sitting on millions of pounds of assets as their portfolios include an impressive array of property - including 378 pubs and 174 hotels.

Freedom of information requests sent by the Taxpayers' Alliance show that local councils also own golf courses, shopping centres and a cheese factory.

Despite austerity measures being imposed on local authorities, the Taxpayers' Alliance says that councils are "hoarding assets". Among the oddest are a wet fish stall in Thanet and a cheese factory in Dumfries and Galloway.

As of April 2014, local authorities owned 580 restaurants or cafes, alongside 378 pubs. Brighton and Hove City Council owned a total of 59 restaurants and cafes, while Birmingham City Council owns 19 pubs.

407 golf courses in the country are owned by councils - with Barnet Borough Council alone owning ten.

Among other assets are 2,586 farms, 259 theatres and 7,294 shops.

Bristol City Council and Harlow District Council both own nightclubs, while Nottingham City Council also owns a bingo hall.

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

What possible business does a council have owning a nightclub? It looks deeply hypocritical for councils to plead poverty as an excuse for hiking Council Tax when they've got such a huge asset portfolio. Local authorities should be focussed on essential services.

The time has come for a serious discussion on what councils should, and should not, be doing - a drastic rethink which saw many of these assets returned to the private sector where some of them clearly belong would be a dramatic step towards a balanced budget and protecting taxpayers.

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