Mark Conrad 05 July 2022

Talks held over council's debt concern

Talks held over councils debt concern image

Woking BC has held ‘positive and constructive’ talks with the Government amid ministerial concerns about the sustainability of the authority’s debts.

The council admitted its debt levels were relatively high due to £1.8bn in loans, including £700m for its Victoria Square development.

However, the council said its loans were primarily from the Public Works Loan Board, involve low and affordable interest rates, and that most projects would generate future income.

Woking chief executive Julie Fisher said the council was ‘working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to assist them in understanding our local borrowing and investment practices’.

Local government minister Kemi Badenoch wrote to Woking and seven other English local authorities in mid-May expressing departmental concerns about ‘disproportionate levels of debt’ and ‘commercial investments’.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: 'Taxpayers expect us to take action to stop councils from building up excessive debt. 

'We will continue to engage with councils to make sure they are supported.'

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