In an FOI request made by our public face to Shepway District Council (SDC), the response was a little strange. The request was simple:
Please provide me with all land/buildings owned by SDC outside of the boundaries of Shepway and to include out side the UK.
The response was bizarre because SDC responded with just one address and that was in Shepway.
As you may or may not know, SDC are the sole shareholder and wholly own 100% of Oportunitas Ltd, meaning they own the company and its assets
A shareholder is any person, company or other institution that owns at least one share of the company’s stock. Because shareholders are a company’s owners, they reap the benefits of the company’s successes in the form of increased stock valuation. If the company does poorly, however shareholders can lose money if the price of the stock declines.
An Internal review of the FOI was requested (ie look at it again please) and SDC’s response was as follows:
I have considered your request. I have decided that the council answered your request correctly. Your request was for all land/buildings holding owned by SDC outside the boundaries of Shepway and to include outside the UK. [Emphasis SDC’s] You asked for details of land owned by SDC, i.e. Shepway District Council. Land or buildings owned by Oportunitas Ltd are owned by that company, not the company’s shareholders. [Emphasis ours]
So who owns Oportunitas Ltd if it is not SDC, as they are the only shareholder?
A total of £4.78 million of funding has been approved by the Council for investment by Oportunitas and to date, 29 homes and 1 commercial unit have been acquired and are under management.
On the 16th July 2014, the Cabinet approved the formation of a housing and regeneration company – Oportunitas Ltd
Four Cllrs make up the board of the company, they are
Cllr Govett Cllr Jeffrey Cllr Martin Cllr Wilkins
The gang of four as Directors receive a small remuneration and have also been given dispensation to speak and vote on matters concerning the company at meetings of the Council/Committee or Cabinet. These dispensations will expire at the endo of June 2017 (time limited in line with the constitution).
The Council – SDC – wholly owns Oportunitas Limited, a company set up for housing and regeneration purposes. The results of the company have been consolidated with those of the Council and are shown within the group financial statements commencing on page 110 of the accounts 16/17.
The Council holds 100 shares in Opportunitas at a cost of £0.479 million and has loans outstanding of £3.35 million from it.
Company turnover for 16/17 was £148,000 – (15/16 £91,000)
Oportunitas made a loss on ordinary activities of £70,000 in 16/17 ( 15/16 £66,000)
It’s holdings in investment property was £2.35 million at 31/3/17 (15/16 £1.4 million)
So we know SDC “wholly own” Oportunitas Ltd, it’s a pity that the Information Department at SDC don’t see it that way, even when SDC’s accounts states three times that SDC own the company.
So you could always ask the directors, who owns the company, as SDC don’t seem to know that they do.