Sale of education services to support high streets across the county

Essex County Council

Essex County Council - Credit: Archant

Essex high streets will benefit from the sale of a council-run education company – set to bring in millions of pounds.

The amount Essex County Council (ECC) raised though the sale of Essex Education Services (EES) has not been revealed due to commercial sensitivity rules, but it is likely to have raised millions.

The money is being put towards a new reserve for Commercial Investment in Essex Places, that fits the council's housing growth and town centre agendas.

The fund will operate in parallel with ECC's property £44million investment fund that it launched last year with the first purchase of an office block for £11.1million.

However, the council has since reduced the total £50million pot by £6million due to the uncertainties caused by Brexit and the potential impact on the property market and the scheme has been paused with no further purchases planned.

Senior finance business partner at ECC, Kevin Mitchell, said: "The existing investment fund is purely a money making venture to support the budget.

"This new reserve is to focus funds on internal development within Essex, principally to achieve the same purposes, to produce a return, but equally it is to support those strategic objectives in supporting and developing the high street."

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The reserve, funded by proceeds from the sale of EES, will have the final amount to be confirmed once final accounting entries following the sale are completed.

EES was marketed with its own recognisable brand in the market place and a key product, Target Tracker (TT) software, holds a 25 per cent market share in primary school assessment software, securing its place as the market's largest single provider.

It has more than 4,500 customers nationally, with a limited additional customer base internationally.

EES is a profitable business and it has grown steadily, developing both its product and customer bases.

However, in recent years, schools funding has become increasingly constrained and investment in Target Tracker has been limited.

This means that since 2017, sales have not experienced the same rate of growth experienced as in previous years.

It has now been decided that in order to continue to grow and meet the demands of its customers, significant investment would be required both in existing and new products - which the county council is not willing to carry out.