Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Invest NI squander £500K renting empty building at Campsie

9 June, 2008

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has reiterated her demand for a full public inquiry into Invest NI after uncovering startling new evidence about the investment body's conduct towards the North West.

"Since its foundation in 2002, Invest NI has paid a quarter of a million pounds in public money to rent an empty building outside Derry. In the previous 10 years, INI's predecessor - the IDB - paid a quarter of a million pounds to rent the same empty building. That's half-a-million pounds of public money already squandered."

Ms. Anderson said:

"My investigations through the Assembly show that Invest NI - formerly the IDB - have been renting a 10,500 sq ft business unit at Campsie since 1992 and hold a lease on this empty building which runs until 2017.

"At 2007 property values, INI will continue to shell out £45,000 per year for the next decade - regardless of the fact that this unit is lying empty.

"Under current circumstances, by the end of the 25 year contract, INI will have paid total rent of one million pounds for an empty building.

"This example raises very serious questions of public interest about INI's sustained and structural performance failure to economically, efficiently and effectively discharge public funds - with particular regard to INI's maintenance of regional investment inequalities across the North.

"In particular, the glaring question arises: has Invest NI included the hundreds of thousands of pounds expenditure renting this empty business unit in its threadbare PR claims of supposed 'support' for investment in the North West economy?

"On one hand, this is a scandalous waste of public funds and on the other it speaks volumes about INI's lack of commitment to the North West by failing to find a tenant for a major business unit in Derry over a 16-year period - yet continuing to pay the landlord from public funds!

"Furthermore, there have been several new business parks opened across the North West during the same period which have had no difficulty securing tenants.

"I have already formally asked the Public Accounts Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General to consider investigating INI after uncovering earlier evidence of their failure to deliver for the North West and failing to demonstrate due regard for the need to promote equality of opportunity in addressing regional investment inequalities.

"I will now be urgently contacting both offices to advise them of this new information and press them to rigorously pursue INI." ENDS

Note to Editors

Invest NI holds the lease on one vacant unit which is located at Campsie Business Park. The lease on the unit was inherited by Invest NI from the Department of Economic Development through the Industrial Development Board. The unit has remained empty despite being actively marketed by IDB / Invest NI both internally to Client Companies and on the open market.

Invest NI holds a 25 year lease on this unit which commenced on 10th August 1992.

Since April 2002, Invest NI has paid £249,595 rent on the vacant business unit at Campsie Business Park. The unit has remained empty despite being actively marketed by IDB / Invest NI both internally to Client Companies and on the open market through an estate agent.

The rent on the unit prior to April 2002 was paid by the Industrial Development Board. Whilst Invest NI does not hold the financial records of the Industrial Development Board, under the terms of the lease the rent due to be paid for the period covering 1992 - 2002 is approximately £250,000.

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