Shropshire Council's private company to make a profit

Shropshire Council's private company IP&E is set to make a small profit this year, boss Keith Barrow told a meeting of the county's business leaders.

Shropshire Council's private company to make a profit

He said revenue for the stand alone business is set to top £15 million after many more services were carried over.

Mr Barrow said complaints about a lack of information about the standalone private company, into which the council is depositing many of its services, was due to the slow, complex process of transfer.

Leader of the council Keith Barrow

"It's getting to a turnover of approximately £15 million for this year, and I believe it will return a small profit," Mr Barrow said.

"The figures are not finalised but that's what I hope."

He also insisted that the project, which made a loss of £114,701 on revenue of £305,945 last year, was worthwhile regardless of its bottom line.

"If IP&E didn't make a penny by 2017 it would still have saved the council £750,000," Mr Barrow added, "because as we move things across we cut the budget and save money."

The Shropshire Council leader was speaking at the annual Shropshire Council Economic Summit, attended by more than 100 business owners.

The conference, at Shrewsbury Town FC's Greenhous Meadow stadium, also heard from Shropshire Business Board chairman Mandy Thorn, council chief executive Clive Wright, Steve Charmley – the portfolio holder for business and IP&E – and West Midlands Economic Forum economist Paul Forrest, who talked about the state of the county's economy, and plans for devolved powers to different parts of the country.

Many questions from the floor focused on plans by the council to cut its number of tourism officers from two to one.

Tony Bywater, chairman of Salop Leisure, was among those to question the decision, warning that it could detract from the sector, which is worth around £500 million to the county's economy.

He said: "I urge you to give serious thought to this. We know we have got to do more ourselves to promote tourism, but we need to have a definite link between ourselves and Shropshire Council, and the same applies in Telford."

Mr Charmley said the move was "strategic", and was designed to bring together other county-based tourism organisations. He added: "The officer will be a single point of contact for all things tourism."

Discussions also highlighted the key projects for the future of the Shropshire economy, including Shrewsbury's North West Relief Road, Craven Arms Business Park, Oswestry Innovation Park, and Market Drayton's new Tern Valley Business Park extension.

Mr Barrow also told the meeting that he had held discussions with the mobile phone networks about improving coverage in the county.

"There's a will to deal with "not-spots" and mobile phone coverage that there wasn't a few months back," he said.

"The public, the Shropshire Star and the council have been shouting about it, and they are starting to listen."

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