Green councillors have attacked the council’s commercial investment strategy investment as ‘gambling taxpayers’ money’.

RBC has spent more than £70 million on four commercial properties in the last three years as part of its strategy,

This includes a £32.9m investment in Four 10 Thames Valley Park in April.

The council's updated commercial investment strategy was approved on Monday (June 10).

Councillor Rob White, leader of the Reading Green Party, said: “Green councillors don’t support gambling taxpayers’ money on commercial properties.

“Local authorities are meant to follow a set of guidelines when borrowing money, which caution against becoming too dependent on commercial income and taking on too much debt.”

Cllr White was the only member of the Policy committee to reject the strategy.

Conservative councillor David Stevens criticised resistance to any commercial investment.

He said: “To groups that resist any sort of thing like this, that’s all very well, but this was trying to generate income of something like £750,000 which is no small sum of money to support the main budget this year.

“If you are going to resist things like this, you should come up with alternatives.”

The council expects to raise around £1.5m in total from the four properties annually.

Chief executive Peter Sloman said it would be ‘wrong’ to call the council’s investments ‘a gamble’

He said: “There is a difference between managed risks and gambling.

“I would like to reassure the Reading public that we don’t gamble with their money in any way.

“When we buy offices, we look very closely at who the tenants are and what their contracted rents are and whether those contracted rents have a guarantee from head office.

“There is always risk that you might have a tenant go into liquidation but our diverse portfolio reduces that risk considerably.”

The new strategy was approved in a closed discussion before being discussed in public.

Councillor Jason Brock, leader of the council, added: “We have always been very cautious in our process.

“We have tried to always ensure our strategy is a sensible one that is founded on good decisions.

“It allows to have an economic stake in our community but it’s also important that we have a diverse property portfolio.

“It provides an opportunity as well to deliver a revenue stream that helps us to ensure we can continue to deliver services that we otherwise might not be able to do.”