Warrington announces Community Municipal Investment

Warrington Borough Council has approved plans for a new green infrastructure project, giving the public the opportunity to invest with the council to develop a solar farm by offering a Community Municipal Investment (CMI) – the new model of finance developed by research in the School of Sociology & Social Policy at Leeds.

The Cabinet has given the go ahead to a new CMI, which allows people to invest as little as £5 to support an important project for Warrington’s future and receive a long term, low risk return.

The plans for the solar farm, in Cirencester, have been in development since 2018, as part of the council’s ongoing work to deliver its Green Energy Strategy and meet the aims of its climate emergency declaration.

As designed in Dr Mark Davis’s Financing for Society project at Leeds, the CMI is a bond issued by a local authority directly to the public via an internet-based crowdfunding platform. It will be administered by the research partner, Abundance Investment, who are a separate FCA registered company, on behalf of the council.

The plans form part of a nationwide effort to use CMIs to fund infrastructure for local authorities, and will see the council issuing a CMI to fund part of the Cirencester project. The bond will be issued to residents in August 2020 with investors from across the country able to receive a percentage return on their capital for the investment.

While the CMI bonds will be targeted at people living within the Warrington region, they will also be available to people living across the UK. CMBs are built to prioritise individual investment but are compatible with the requirements of institutional investors such as pension funds.

Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “As a council, we want to inspire, drive and support our communities to address the challenges of the climate emergency, working in partnership to achieve real change. The Community Municipal Bond will support this work.”

“It will give the public the opportunity to make a sound, social investment, while playing their part in protecting vital services and helping create a cleaner, greener future for our borough.”

Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director, Abundance, said: “Mobilising our money in this way is the most effective way to kick start the UK’s recovery from the impact of Covid-19 and ensure it is both green and fair.”

Further details on the launch of the scheme will be provided in the coming weeks.