Essex County Council has agreed to purchase a retail park - more than 150 miles over the county's border in West Yorkshire.

Despite increasing council tax for the average resident by around £60 a year for 2018, the council is set to invest a significant amount of taxpayer's cash to purchase the 65,000sq ft, about the size of a football pitch, Keighley Retail Park.

Approval was also given to purchase a high-end office block in Watford, Hertfordshire, with tenants already in situ.

The investments are part of the council’s drive to create “sustainable” revenue streams due to a reduction in funding from the government, however some may be left wondering if similar investment could not have been made closer to home.

A spokesman for the council said: "If the council can secure alternative sources of income then it will be financially more sustainable.

"One possible way of doing this is by investment into commercial property.

"However, arrangements will be put in place to ensure that investments are prudent and generate sustainable income streams, together with opportunity for capital growth.

The source of the cash will be from capital receipts or borrowing but as with any commercial property deal, there is a certain amount of risk with the investment - something County Hall has admitted in its reports.

The spokesman added: "The monthly rental net income, after borrowing costs, is greater than the return that the council can make through other treasury management routes.

"Therefore this investment makes a positive funding contribution to the Essex County Council finances."

County Hall said the purchase of more property over county lines was likely, but insisted its approach would be a sustainable one.

The spokesman said: "Nationally more than 95 per cent of property transactions are not within Essex and as this is a national fund, it naturally will fall to non-Essex properties.

"Essex has agreed and published a framework for property acquisitions at Cabinet taking external independent advice.

"We also have extensive experience through our pension fund management in this sector."

Despite our requests, the council would not reveal how much it was set to pay for both properties.