COUNCIL: Reassess the borrowing

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I have taken a keen interest in the recent attempts by Northumberland County Council to explain its huge spending spree of late as an attempt to shore up the broken economy of Northumberland.

Reports I am reading seem to suggest that the spend has so far reached £1bn.

I’m afraid, to me, it appears to have gone far past that and is heading for £2bn.

The shopping basket includes the biggest shopping centre in the county and retail park, giving Hammerson, the finance company, a £5m bonus.

We appear to be on our way to own not one, but two hotels and restaurants, and the need for the county to have four multi-storey car parks has already been agreed.

Empty new office space is a scandal.

I haven’t even mentioned the needs assessment for a £32m to £82m glass ‘white elephant’ of a new home for the councillors of this remote, seemingly out of touch council.

Last year anyone who read through the needs assessment for this monolithic structure would see the main reason for replacing a 40-year-old building was that for ten years the council did not appear to have a repair plan. This covers both Labour and Liberal run councils.

You couldn’t make it up, could you?

The councillors need new offices, new councillor canteen facilities, new rest rooms, new car parks – the list goes on and on.

Of course, if they find that their current facilities are not modern enough for them, they could just stand down.

If they had the money saved up already for such expense then it is their decision I would suppose, but for a council to take away students’ bus travel, demolish public toilets, fail to tackle potholes, and instead spend its money on councillors, it suggests that the old ideals of ‘tax and spend’ have returned.

Mr Corbyn has spurred on their efforts by his promise to borrow £500bn to spend, spend, spend.

But all this money we are talking about is from loans.

Yep, the council that was one of those affected by the Icelandic Bank scandal, which cost us millions of pounds, has gone back to the banks to borrow this money to give to its own company – Arch.

With interest costs possibly rising to £40m per annum in the near future this council needs to assess its reliance on private finance.

As a council, it is mortgaging our young people to the hilt.

Regards to fellow residents.

Bob Watson