SOMERSET Council is set to lose £7million on a building a predecessor district council purchased in 2021.

The former Somerset West and Taunton Council bought the Steelite International Limited building in Stoke-on-Trent for £21million three years ago, with total purchase costs further amounting to £22.7million.

The building serves as the headquarters for Steelite, a global crockery company, and came into the ownership of Somerset Council in April last year.

Now, the building has been put up for sale for a price of £14million – £7million less than what the former council paid in 2021.

When inflation is accounted for, this figure translates to a loss of £8.3million – and that’s excluding the further £1.7million paid by Somerset West and Taunton Council accounted for in the 'total purchase costs' figure.

Chard & Ilminster News: Somerset Council's headquarters at County Hall, in Taunton.Somerset Council's headquarters at County Hall, in Taunton. (Image: Jamie Grover, Newsquest)

The Stoke-on-Trent building was the biggest investment made by the former council out of a total of 12 purchases between August 2020 and December 2021, amounting to a total of £98.9million.

Other commercial properties bought include a branch of Wickes Extra in Birmingham for £9,250,000, a B&Q in Scotland for £6.6million, and a retail park in North Shields for £11,960,000.

The offices which Somerset West and Taunton Council paid £9,572,000 for in August 2020 can be seen for sale currently on Rightmove, marked 'Price on Application'.

The unitary authority says the county’s former district councils were encouraged to make investments to counter funding pressures. 

But the council has since decided to sell them because of its financial emergency.

A spokesperson for Somerset Council said: "Previous councils – Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council and South Somerset District Council – followed government encouragement to invest in commercial property to counter funding pressures. 

"This meant that the councils owned property as an asset and also had an income from its tenants.

"The position for Somerset Council has now changed.  

"As part of the financial emergency, at Full Council on Tuesday, February 20, Somerset Council resolved to dispose of all the commercial properties inherited from legacy councils.

"The Steelite property in Stoke on Trent was purchased by Somerset West and Taunton Council for £21m. 

"Commercial investment property values nationally have fallen since then. The guide price is in line with the general change in market values."

The full list of properties purchased by Somerset West and Taunton Council between August 2020 and December 2021 is as follows:

  • 730 Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Bristol - £9,572,000
  • The Range, Pellon Lane, Halifax - £5,445,000
  • B&Q Sanquhar Farm Road, Ayr, Scotland - £6,600,000
  • Wickes Extra Aldridge Road Tameside Business Park, Perry Barr, Birmingham - £9,250,000
  • Jaguar Land Rover, Concord Way, Preston Farm Industrial Estate, Stockton on Tees - £5,775,000
  • One Quinton Business Park, Birmingham - £5,485,000
  • North Shields Retail Park, North Shields - £11,960,000
  • Fenick House, Hamilton, Glasgow - £4,505,000
  • Audi, Cardiff - £6,725,000
  • Reflex Group, Barwell - £5,065,000
  • Reflex Group, Ossett - £2,455,000
  • Steellite, Stoke-on-Trent - £21,000,000