Saturday, February 4, 2023

Thurrock Council set to declare itself bankrupt

THURROCK Council which has a £469 million deficit, will declare itself effectively bankrupt before Christmas, it has been confirmed.

Jonathan Wilson, Thurrock Council’s deputy finance officer, informed councillors a section 114 notice will be issued ahead of the festive holidays.

The notice means the council will be unable to make any new spending commitments other than for essential and statutory services without going through a newly appointed spending panel.

The council is in the middle of a best value inspection and improvement process by Government appointed commissioners who were brought in after the council squandered millions of pounds on disastrous investments.

Giving an update on the situation to councillors on the corporate overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday,

Mr Wilson said: “This is a grave position. There is a £469 million deficit being reflected for the current year and a further £184million deficit for the subsequent year. That £469million almost entirely relates to investment related balances.

“So a huge figure to reflect on and we’ve got very limited mitigation. What that means for the council is we will request exceptional financial support from the Government. That conversation is ongoing. We will inevitably issue a section 114 notice and that will be before Christmas.”

In January, a peer review, where senior councillors from other authorities are brought in to scrutinise a council, highlighted financial problems. The damning report was kept secret until the summer and the committee has only now been able to scrutinise the report.

John Kent, leader of the Labour group, said: “A lot of members gave a lot of time to speak to the team when they were in Thurrock in January. There was an interim report, the report that we’ve got here, that was given to the council in January and yet I was still having to go through the FOI process in June and July to get a copy of this.

“I just don’t understand why any local authority would go to the effort to commission a peer review like this and keep it hidden. The fact is if I hadn’t brought a resolution asking for this to come before members, we still wouldn’t be discussing it now a year on.”

Mark Coxshall, leader of the council, said: “The culture of secrecy here has got to stop and that’s what I want to do. It should have come as soon as possible. We shouldn’t hide bad news away.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. All council officers involved in this should be sacked, not just put on ‘garden leave’ as is the current case. In addition the Tory councillors who tried to hide the miss-management should be removed from office and new elections held in their constituency.

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