Swindon Council debt results in interest bill of £11.5m

The Labour Group Leader reacts to the news that Swindon borough Council has budgeted to spend £11.5m to pay-off the interest payments on its debts in the 2012/13 financial year. This is an increase of £1.5m from the 2011/12 Council budget.

The Council’s existing debt is £80m, however it is expected that this will increase in the 2012/13 financial year, with the Council already committing to borrowing £15m on the Union Square development.

When the Conservative Group took overall control of Swindon borough Council from Labour in 2004, the Council had a surplus of £6.6m.

While Swindon borough Council has a debt of £80m, Southampton City Council has a debt of £33m and bath & North-East Somerset Council has a debt of only £13.9m

I believe it is utterly disgraceful that this Tory administration has racked up debts of £80m after inheriting balanced books from Labour. This has resulted in the Council having to pay £11.5m in interest payments next year. This money could have been given back to Swindon’s Council taxpayers or could have been used to virtually avoid making cuts at all next year.

Under Labour Swindon Council had a surplus of £6.6m
Under the Conservatives Swindon Council now has a debt of £80m
resulting in interest payments of £11.5m, next year

This administration is completely out of control and it is Council-tax payers who are paying the price, paying £11.5m next year just servicing the interest payments on the Council’s debt. And what concerns me more is that with the commitment this administration has made to borrow £15m to build a car park at Union Square, the interest payments Swindon’s Council-tax payers are paying now looks set to only increase in future years.

At the next Full Council Meeting the Labour Group will be calling on the Conservative administration to explain how they got the Council in to this mess and how they plan to get the Council out of it. My worry is that they have no such plan and are content in allowing Council-taxpayers to pay off their massive debts.

Only a new and reforming Labour administration will be able to bring a culture of responsibility back to managing the Council’s finances. And we would do this firstly by establishing a credible plan on how the Council will reduce its £80m debt and help stop the current injustice that Council-taxpayers are having to pay for the Tories profligate spending.

Councillor Jim Grant
Swindon Labour Group Leader