Hucknal councillor accuses Nottinghamshire County Council of 'drowning in debt' after authority reveals it needs to borrow £70million in the next year
A Hucknall councillor says Nottinghamshire County Council needs to ‘get a grip on it’s growing debts’, which are now close to £600 million.
Coun Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall South also labelled a planned review into spending another £28 million on new offices, including a £14.3 flagship office building at Top Wighay Farm in Hucknall ‘a sham’.
He made his comments at a finance committee meeting on October 11, where Nigel Stevenson, service director for finance, infrastructure and improvement, confirmed that the council was planning to borrow another £70 million in the next year to help balance the books.
The council currently owes more than £400million to the Public Works Loan Board, a statutory body of the Government that provides loans to public bodies from the National Loans Fund at preferential rates.
It also owes close to £80 million from other lenders, while plans to borrow another £28 million for new offices have been put on hold following pressure from Independent councillors.
The council will make a decision on this in November – however, Independent councillors have confirmed they will vote against any new buildings.
Coun Waters said: "This council needs to get a grip on its growing debts – especially the growing Public Works Loan Board debt.
"Should we be cutting our cloth accordingly and looking to minimalise prudential borrowing?
In response, Mr Stevenson said that servicing the debt was 10 per cent of the council’s total budget.
He added: “You’re quite right Coun Waters, it is something we have to keep an eye on.
“It is something that’s on my mind and our member’s minds.”
Coun Bruce Laughton (Con), council deputy leader, said: “With reference to the debt levels, as far as this council is concerned, much of the debt is accrued, for example over the last four years, we’ve spent £100m renovating schools.
“We could be in a position where we don’t accrue the debt but we are asking our children to go to schools which are not fit for purpose, affecting their education.
“Much of the money is spent on supported accommodation and is there to support elderly people.
“You need to put the debt in the round with our responsibility to provide a service for the people of Nottinghamshire.”
The financial monitoring report was passed by councillors during the meeting.
After the meeting, Coun Waters said: “It’s clear that Nottinghamshire County Council is drowning in debt.
"The Conservatives’ reckless and wasteful spending is severely impacting council services and yet no decision has been made on plans to borrow close to £30 million on buildings we patently don’t need.
"On top of this, they are planning to borrow another £70 million just to balance the books.
"The council is like a spendthrift with a brand new credit card without limits.
"They are only reviewing the £28 million they are planning to borrow to build new offices to shut Ashfield Independent councillors up.
"Their review is a sham.”