Cheshire East

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Council gives green light to UK's first Community Municipal Investment

Councillors at West Berkshire Council voted last week to approve the UK's first Community Municipal Investment, a bond or loan mechanism issued by a council directly to the public.

The local authority said individuals both in and outside of West Berkshire would be able to invest “from as little as £5” to support specific projects that align with its declaration of a climate Emergency in July 2019 and its Environment Strategy. 

These will include projects such as installing rooftop solar panels on a building at Greenham Common and on local schools. 

The council said that in return for supporting its aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, investors would receive a long-term, low-risk return. 

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West Berkshire’s Community Municipal Investment (CMI) will be provided in partnership with the online crowdfunding platform Abundance Investment, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 

CMIs can be used to supplement, diversify or replace sources of borrowing to fund specific infrastructure projects, or to refinance existing debt, the council said.

Ross Mackinnon, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Finance, said: "The Community Municipal Investment is a unique way to invest in West Berkshire. It puts residents' money to work where it will make a positive contribution toward our target to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

"Communities investing directly with us will provide us with a cheaper alternative to conventional sources of funds and reduce the overall cost of borrowing to all taxpayers across the district." 

Steve Ardagh-Walter, West Berkshire's Executive Member for the Environment, said: "This scheme has great potential and will enable the council to take on additional green projects and enable us to move towards carbon neutrality sooner. This is a priority for each and every one of us." 

The council said it hoped to launch the scheme to investors in the coming weeks after social distancing restrictions are relaxed. 

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