Eastbourne Borough Council has said buying part of a retail park for just over £18 million will help them to protect frontline services.

The land at Hampden Park Retail Park, which includes B&Q, Maplin and Halfords stores, is among several properties the authority has acquired recently.

The leader of the council said the purchase was part of a move to purchase assets by using low interest rates on borrowing.

David Tutt has told More Radio the move would allow the authority to raise more money at a time when Government funding is being reduced.

He said:

“One of the few advantages to local authorities is that they can borrow money at a very low rate, so we can borrow at 2.75 per cent or below.

We invest in property and other opportunities that give us a return on the capital employed of six per cent and above.

So that more than three per cent is the dividend that helps us to put money into frontline services.”

Eastbourne Borough Council has received £6 million in funding from the Government this year, according to Mr Tutt, compared with £12 million in 2010.

The council has also purchased a retail and housing site at Victoria Mansions in Terminus Road for £5 million.

Mr Tutt said further purchases would only be made if due diligence checks had been completed and once the council had looked at possible uses for the land.