OXFORD taxpayers will fund renewable energy projects around the county as part of a £2.3m deal.
The money is set to be loaned to a community-based social enterprise called Low Carbon Hub to fund solar panels for schools and businesses around Oxfordshire.
In return for this money, the city council is expecting to get its money back, plus around £34,000 interest, which works out at about 1.4 per cent.
But the city council’s financial chief has warned that the return on the investment is “minimal” and there are risks associated with the investment.
The city council’s deputy leader Ed Turner has said the money would be invested back into some of the authority’s capital projects.
He said: “We think it is win-win because on the one hand it represents a good investment for the council and we will get our money back with interest and it will enable Low Carbon Hub to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings in Oxford and elsewhere.”
When asked whether taxpayers’ money from Oxford should be used to subsidise schemes around the county, Mr Turner said: “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do if it cost us money but the benefit from it will be ploughed back into Oxford.
“It makes good sense and at the end of the day we all share one climate, and climate change doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the ring road.”
He added that the city council earns an average of 0.89 per cent on its other investments.
Low Carbon Hub has a list of projects it wants to get off the ground and it was agreed the council would loan the funding. It is estimated that the project will fund solar panels for 25 schools, of which three will be in Oxford, and two businesses, none in the city.
But Nigel Kennedy, the city council’s head of finance, said: “The financial case is not strong since the return in cash terms is minimal for the increased risks taken on, the greatest of which is the failure of the share issue to enable the return of the council’s loan in the specified period.”
The city council has agreed savings of £5.4m as well as increase council house rents, parking charges and council tax.
The money for the loan comes from the city council’s capital programme but this is phased over several years.
One of the projects which will benefit from the city council’s capital project later this year is the refurbishment of Cutteslowe Park’s lower pavilion.
Kit Villiers, chairman of the Friends of Cutteslowe Park, said: “The pavilion does look a bit of a dump and an eyesore at the moment. It would be a pity to think of the work not happening quickly.”
The Oxford Mail contacted Barbara Hammond of Low Carbon Hub, but she declined to comment.
A decision on the scheme will be made by the city executive board at at 1.30pm on Wednesday, at Oxford Town Hall.
Our top stories:
9:00am Monday 24th November 2014
PLANS to widen the A34 in both directions through Oxfordshire would cost at least £800 million, a new report has revealed.
12:44pm Monday 24th November 2014
THE A44 is closed following an incident between Spring Hill Road and Sandy Lane/ Rutten Lane between Yarnton and Begbroke.
12:00pm Monday 24th November 2014
Want to explore our interactive front page? Here it is...
9:46am Monday 24th November 2014
THE A44 near Wootton, West Oxfordshire has reopened in both directions after an accident.
9:25am Monday 24th November 2014
A WATER main has burst in Stratton Audley Road, Stoke Lyne, near Bicester.
9:10am Monday 24th November 2014
PHILIPPA Randels had met Sir Terry Wogan twice before but that didn’t stop her being at the front of the queue for a third meeting in Abingdon.
8:40am Monday 24th November 2014
AFTER 10 hours of non-stop salsa dancing, Bea Prentiss and her team could have been forgiven for wanting to take a well-earned rest.
8:37am Monday 24th November 2014
STAFF at the John Radcliffe are striking this morning in an ongoing row over pay.
8:30am Monday 24th November 2014
GUN owners will be able to hand in their firearms without fear of prosecution for two weeks from today.
8:20am Monday 24th November 2014
NHS staff including midwives, nurses, radiographers and cleaners are taking strike action today in protest over government cuts and privatisation of the health service.
8:32am Monday 24th November 2014
Buses are being delayed by heavy congestion this morning.
8:10am Monday 24th November 2014
A MAN who fraudulently claimed more than £820 in housing benefit and had to be arrested on a warrant will have to pay back more than £2,000.
8:00am Monday 24th November 2014
HEART patients were given a tour of a new £1.8m unit at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital equipped with cutting-edge technology that aims to cut down waiting times.