Millions of pounds of public money will be spent on buying the Wilkinson Sword tower in High Wycombe, if a secret council takeover bid is completed, the Bucks Free Press can reveal.

Behind closed doors, Wycombe District Council this week gave the go-ahead for taxpayers’ cash to be ploughed into the seven-storey block on Totteridge Road, as part of a long-term investment.

However, council chiefs have now admitted their multi-million pound plan to buy Sword House – which is on the market for £6.5 million – after being pushed on the matter by the Free Press once the bold bid was uncovered.

The property, which sits next to Wycombe Railway Station, is currently home to a number of large businesses, including Wilkinson Sword.

If the council’s undisclosed bid to buy the ground lease for the property – which sits on land they already own as the ‘freeholder’ – is completed, it would be expected that the building is leased to companies wanting to base their offices there.

WDC had remained tight-lipped over takeover plans, ejecting journalists and members of the public from a meeting this week while discussing the private bid, which remained confidential due to commercial interests.

All that was made public from this week’s meeting was that the council wanted to “acquire office space”, recommending that funding be taken from the council treasury deposit funds.

However, decision-makers have now admitted they hope to acquire the lease on Sword House in an aim to “improve the council’s financial position”.

A WDC spokesman said: “Wycombe District Council has a proven track record of making commercial investments to maintain vital services and to enhance the district for our residents, despite facing severe and challenging funding cuts by central government.

“The council already owns the freehold to Sword House and the ground lease recently came onto the property investment market at an asking price of about £6.5m.

“The council can confirm it intends to acquire the ground lease as a strategic land purchase and to improve the council’s financial position.”

They added: “This follows other recent property investments – such as the new Waitrose supermarket at the Handy X Hub and the new car park at John Lewis – all of which generate better revenue returns on the council’s capital reserves than bank deposits.

“We will not be making any further comment on Sword House until any deal has been concluded.”

It is understood that the sale has not yet been finalised, with councillors only giving the bid the green light at a full council meeting on Tuesday.

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