Council's debt charges risen by £1m
5:30pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
SWINDON Council has been criticised for spending an extra £1m this year on debt charges on its £92m in loans.
In 2012/13, Swindon Council budgeted £8.7m on debt management, which was used to meet the council’s borrowing costs. September’s cabinet report reveals that the figure has now been pushed up to £9.7m for 2013/14.
The town’s Labour group claims the money should be going on front-line services.
Swindon’s Labour councillors have pointed to the £45m the authority spent on the Wichelstowe development and the £16m it spent on building a new town centre car park – as well as instances of other smaller spending such as the £400,000 on the wi-fi project – as the reason why the council’s debt and borrowing costs continue to rise.
The Swindon Labour group leader, Jim Grant, said: “While the Conservative-controlled council has made cuts to things like children’s centres, roads and bus services and have cut back in recent years on grounds maintenance and street cleaning, we now find that it has also had to increase its spending on borrowing costs by £1m.
“I think Swindon residents will rightly be asking themselves why has the Conservative administration got Swindon Council in a position that they’re increasing their debt charges budget while making unprecedented cuts to important council services that affect us all?
“And the answer is that they have taken the decision that they will spend money on things like an unneeded car park in the town centre.
“At some stage when you make this unnecessary spending your annual debt charges have to go up.
“What worries me is that it is likely that the council’s annual debt charges will go up again in the future and that is something we have to try to avoid.”
Leader of Swindon Council David Renard said the council’s debt had been built up from projects that are for the benefit of the town.
“The vast bulk of the expenditure has been getting the Wichelstowe development underway. Therefore we expect to get that back,” said Coun Renard.
“A lot of money has been invested in building new schools to meet the demand of Swindon’s growing population.
“If Labour can identify capital expenditure that we shouldn’t have spent then I would be happy to listen.”
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