Saturday, December 2, 2023

Thurrock Council debt could spiral to over £2 billion in just three years

Screenshot 2020-02-27 at 15.20.07

By Local Democracy Reporter

THERE are calls for more transparency after it was agreed Thurrock Council’s debt could increase to more than £2billion in just three years.

The increase to the council’s debt means it will almost double over the three-year period, despite government figures showing that Thurrock already has the highest level of short term borrowing in the country.

The council’s latest finance reports show it has run up a debt of £1.32billion, with almost £1billion borrowed in just the past five years.

The decision to increase borrowing in order to invest means council debt will hit £2.15billion by the end of March 2023.

Labour Councillor Oliver Gerrish warned at a meeting on Wednesday night that councillors were “writing the biggest blank cheque in the history of Thurrock Council” but Conservative Councillor Shane Hebb said it is vital to deliver services for residents.

“Last year Thurrock Council received £31million worth of income from investments and in the coming year we are expecting about £33million,” said Mr Hebb.

“This approach funds our aspiration for our capital programme as well as some of the additional services, including £1million for police constables funded for our borough, half a million in the primary care and education sector around mental health, another half a million for improving air quality.

“Not to mention the several million that we’ve ploughed into the borough so we can empty bins on time, cut the grass and fill in the many potholes. In short it is all used for the benefit of residents.”

He further explained that the investments were in “safe renewable ventures” and the alternative was to cut services.

Of the current £1.32billion of debt for this year, £1.01billion is short term borrowing.

By comparison, Essex’s other unitary authority Southend Council reported no short term loans but were able to deliver a budget for 2020 without making cuts to services.

Council tax in Southend is due to go up by 3.99 per cent while in Thurrock it will rise by 3.49 per cent.

Thurrock’s Labour leader, Councillor Jane Pothercary, said: “I have some concerns about how high Thurrock’s debt has climbed without a huge amount of democratic oversight.

“I am concerned there is a lack of transparency about the debt the council is currently in.”

She said she would not support an increase in debt without a guarantee there will be more oversight, something Mr Hebb said he would consider.

Mr Gerrish added that more democratic oversight was vital as the level of debt was “staggering”.

The Labour councillors also hit back at Mr Hebb’s assurances there are no risks to residents, telling councillors “there is a risk wherever you make these kinds of investments, there is a risk of them going bad.”

But members of the Thurrock Independents backed the investments and Councillor Jack Duffin told the council it is something they “should be proud of”. He urged the Conservatives to continue.

With the Tories getting support from the independents, the increase was approved on Wednesday night.

According to Government figures, the authority with the second highest amount of short term borrowing is Lancashire with £622million followed by Plymouth with £377million.


  1. How much is TBC spending on reversing a one way system in the town centre?

    TBC want to spend £10m on a white elephant council office, then state they want to build on under used car parks etc to recoup this money, they already have an adequate office so why the rush to build a new one?

    Where are these £x billion being spent? the area has not progressed over the past decade indeed certain areas in the borough have become worse rather than improved.

    They talk about pot hole reductions, unfortunately they only patch them which leads to them having to be re done numerous times.

  2. Answering Lambo probably more than they need to, some slow progress there.

    They don’t need new offices and we need more houses and parking. AS it stands in many parts of Thurrock the infrastructure is at breaking point and will need to have a rethink otherwise residents will suffer with blocked drains, flooding and the spreading of effluent around Thurrock.

    Potholes are a pet hate, they need to be a one time repair and to do that patches should not be patches on patches , but need to be undertaken in a way the industry suggests and from practice cut them back until you have a solid edge is the first thing to do so this would eliminate potholes on potholes in some areas warranting a proper patch and longevity in the repair and not keep returning, this activity should be one of the KPI’s as it is on Highway England contracts where a one time repair counts..

  3. Have you seen how quickly the potholes are growing in numbers with the wet conditions and a few frosts, there will be many more, all this on the eve of the Deputy Leaders anniversary regarding all potholes when he announced all filled by March 2019, not so noisy now is he, probably aware of how much the Tories are costing Thurrock with their boastful attitude towards how good are we!.

  4. I thought it was the Labour party that are supposed to be reckless with spending public money and creating debt.

  5. Come on people, I am sure our competent council could increase the debt to more than a mere few billion.
    What is it the CEO says ” run it like a business”

  6. its not their money so its never going to be business like, the only likeness will be when TBC is liquidated through the arrogance and ignorance of those sitting in the chamber now!


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