CIVIC chiefs have granted Winchester City Council more spending power after doubling its pot for property investments.

Members of the city council’s cabinet unanimously approved the move earlier this month, doubling the available Strategic Asset Purchase Scheme (SAPS) funds from £15million to £30m.

The decision has now been ratified at a meeting of full council.

It follows the scheme’s first investment – in Winchester Bus Station – which has been widely regarded as a success story for the council.

The council has so far spent £4.7m from the £15m SAPS fund, with the civic chiefs striking a deal with bus company Stagecoach to buy the bus station freehold.

The decision brought to an end to more than 20 years of negotiations over the site, after Stagecoach first indicated a desire to leave in the 1990s.

An unknown figure has also been allocated as part of a city council transaction currently being discussed behind closed doors.

Winchester City Council finance chief Cllr Guy Ashton said: “The council is aiming to become financially self-sufficient within the next couple of years, relying on our own sources of income rather than on central government funding.

“By investing in strategic assets we enable ourselves to generate new income streams and offer new opportunities for local residents and businesses.”

SAPS was set up in January in order to help the council succeed financially through a number of property investments, but any allocation of funds greater than £4m requires the approval of full council.