Friday, January 27, 2023

Thurrock Council holds emergency meeting over desperate financial state

THURROCK opposition councillors had a chance to vent their anger over a financial meltdown that has tipped the council into bankruptcy reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

At an extraordinary council meeting on Monday to discuss the council issuing a s114 notice signalling that it could not balance its books, interim chief executive Ian Wake said the council faced an “enormous challenge”.

While now relying on Government help, the council must rectify a series of reckless investments made with money borrowed from other councils across the country which is said to have left the authority with a £1.5 billion debt.

The in year deficit for the council now stands at an “unprecedented” £469 million. The council also faces a £184 million deficit for the next financial year.

Mr Wake said: “The situation is an incredibly serious one and requires urgent, concerted and ongoing action by the entire organisation in order to support a path back to financial sustainability.
The scale of the challenge we face is enormous.”

John Kent, leader of the Labour Group, lead the condemnation from opposition councillors.
He said: “This meeting shames Thurrock. The stain of failure will remain with Thurrock Council for evermore.

“This evening we see, laid bare, the cost of six-and-a-half years of Conservative leadership of the council. The council is bankrupt.

“The greatest financial crash of any British council – ever. The toxic Tory debt stands at very nearly one and a half billion pounds, the losses on their dodgy investments stand at £275 million.”

The council sought agreement to raise council tax by more than five per cent without a referendum.
Mr Kent said: “The residents of Thurrock were not responsible for this disaster, they will already be paying more for less and we have a responsibility to do what we can to protect residents, especially in this cost-of-living crisis.

“The cap was put in place for good reason – as a safeguard against an out of control council implementing punishing council tax increases on it’s residents.”

Mark Coxshall, leader of the council, asked his opponents to be nice to him and his colleagues.
He said: “The financial position of the council is severe and we must treat each other better as we pull this council out of this mess.”

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