A SOMERSET MP has expressed his outrage at Somerset Council upon finding out they are set to lose £7million of taxpayers' money on a failed investment.

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.

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

Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset said it was ridiculous the former council had been allowed to play the property market to such an extent.

Read more: Somerset Council failed investment in Stoke-on-Trent loses £7million taxpayers' money

“As far as I am aware there was no council officer with any real professional skill in the field of property development or acquisition and I find it completely appalling that the authority gave itself carte blanche to start dealing in such sums,” he said.

“There also appears to have been a total failure in democracy because at no time were council taxpayers consulted about the council’s decision to launch itself into this field and start acquiring what has turned out to be a toxic asset.

“Somerset West and Taunton has passed into history but the successor council has been left with this dreadful legacy to deal with - and at a time when it needs to lay its hands on every penny it can.”

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."