ATTEMPTS to hide Thurrock Council’s horrendous losses from bad investments cost council tax payers £70,000, it has been revealed.
Just a day after the council finally revealed a deficit approaching £470million on Tuesday, Mark Coxshall, the leader of the Conservative led council admitted it had spent thousands trying to keep its appalling financial misjudgement a secret. This continued even after a ruling by the Information Tribunal to make the information public.
The admission came after Labour group leader John Kent confronted Mr Coxshall at Wednesday’s council meeting.
Mr Kent said: “Thurrock Council has now agreed to abide by the ruling of the Information Tribunal and answer the Freedom of Information request it had been fighting to keep secret.
“How much council tax payers’ money has been spent fighting legal action to try and keep this information secret?”
After the £70,000 figure was revealed by the leader, Mr Kent added: “I welcome that response but the leader of the council has sat in the Conservative cabinet for the last six years.
“These FOIs were submitted three years ago in 2019. Since then he has been complicit in trying to keep this information secret and fighting legal action to prevent the publication.”
Mr Kent said the council’s losses were unprecedented.
He said: “The scale of the financial catastrophe facing Thurrock Council is now becoming clear. What we learnt yesterday was truly shocking. The in-year losses for the council, £470million, is I believe the largest ever posted by a council in this country.
A financial report to cabinet for 2022/23 the council is expecting investment losses £275.4 million and further £129.2 million being set aside to repay investment debt.
There is also a budget gap of £184.4 million for 2023/24, which includes money that must be set aside to write down the debt associated with the remaining investment balances and the interest payable on that debt.
A Government appointed commissioner was brought in to monitor the council’s financial dealings following a string of bad investments.