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City PS700m in debt - and more to come.

Byline: MATT DISCOMBE Local democracy reporter newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

CARDIFF council is almost PS700m in debt - and plans to borrow even more in the coming years.

Figures show the council was borrowing a total of PS693.3m from various loans as of March 31, 2018.

That's just shy of PS2,000 for every man, woman and child in Cardiff, based on its estimated population of 350,000. And that's set to continue as PS61.1m of council spending in 2017/18 - a tenth of its PS609m budget - is to be paid for by borrowing.

The Labour administration told a full council meeting last week that borrowing would continue to invest in the city.

Council leader Huw Thomas said: "Significant sums of money are being borrowed to invest in our city, particularly the money we're putting into our school estate investing in our childrens' future.

"These are prudential borrowings, as signed off by the Section 151 officer and agreed by the Welsh Audit Office."

He told councillors: "So if you do disagree with the investment we're putting into Cardiff's infrastructure, to Cardiff's schools, you are entitled to do so, but please don't try and build that argument on the grounds of affordability."

Conservative councillor Joel Williams told the meeting that the council's annual statement of accounts shows the authority is PS1bn in debt - but the council insists this is a misunderstanding of the figures.

Cllr Williams said: "We are borrowing an awful lot of money as a council and that is going to put pressures on revenue budgets in the future." The debt figures include PS631,760,000 from the Public Works Loans Board, which is part of the UK Treasury, PS51m from long-term loans from banks and PS10,515,000 from the Welsh Government.

Councillor Chris Weaver, the council's cabinet member for finance, said: "To say the council is PS1bn in debt is an alarmist and blatant oversimplification and misunderstanding of very detailed accounts which have been audited and signed off by the Wales Audit Office.

"The council's actual debt stands at PS693.3m, which is a manageable debt, which includes the council's historic capital expenditure.

"Moving forward there are programmes of future capital expenditure and works which are set to take place over many years which can be described as the normal workings of a functioning local authority."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 2, 2018
Words:395
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