WIRRAL Council is looking to sell its freehold interest in New Brighton’s Marine Point development – despite fears it could be doing so “cheaply”.

With Wirral Council looking to plug a gap of £45m in its next budget, an event was held last month where councillors examined several ways the council could make more money.

One of those was to surrender its income stream from the large seaside development, home to businesses such as Morrisons, Iceland, Burger King and Starbucks.

According to the report from the “workshop” event, due to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the business overview and scrutiny committee, since the development was completed in 2011, the authority has received rental income of £200,000 per year.

But if the freehold is sold, it would mean £4m for the council, with the authority saying it may be marketed for £5m.

But there are fears the move would be bad for the council’s finances.

The report said: “There is a concern that the council may be giving away an asset cheaply for an immediate financial return.

“With the annual income stream of around £200k, the sale of the freehold at £4m will result in the council losing out financially after 20 years.

“Officers acknowledged this and cited the budget gap facing the council.

“Members also recognised that the rental income stream would depend on the unit occupancy levels, with market fluctuations determining how much income would be received over the next 20 years.”

The report added that members were assured the £4m sale price was “feasible and based on advice taken from property advisors”.

It added: “The market has not been tested but there is no intention to sell it cheaply and cabinet will determine the threshold.”

Despite the concerns, no objections were raised to that proposal, or the other three presented at the meeting, which included economic regeneration in Birkenhead, disposal of various assets across the borough, and the way the treasury is managed.

The workshop as a concept was actually opposed by the Conservative group, who felt the discussions “should be held in public”.

A full statement from the group, ready out at the start of the workshop, said: “The Conservative members do not believe that a workshop is the appropriate way for the cabinet’s budget proposals to be considered by this committee.

“The budget proposals have a wide ranging impact on many communities in our borough and we believe that the discussions should be held in public at a formal meeting of this committee which is minuted and recorded.”