Hastings council debt to PWLB tops £65 million

Every adult in Hastings owes the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) almost £1,000.

Tonight members of Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) cabinet will hear that the council’s debt to the PWLB has topped £65m and is set to rise even further if plans the council has in the pipeline for further property acquisition and development go ahead.

Papers being presented to tonight’s cabinet by Peter Grace, the council’s Chief Finance Officer as part of the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report show that at September 30th last year HBC owed £65,601,473 to the PWLB at interest rates ranging from 1.83 pr cent through to 4.8 per cent.

While some of the smaller loans will be settled as early as 2028 ore than half of the loans will run until 2050 and beyond, the longest period bing until 2060.

Part of the report that will go before councillors tonight showing HBC’s level of indebtedness to the PWLB.

HBC’s use of PWLB loans to fund an aggressive policy of commercial property acquisition and more recently development has ben well documented and as recently as last month the council’s cabinet was discussing taking further loans for additional property purchase.

A recent report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that the public want councils to be more transparent about their borrowing and property acquisition plans: “The public overwhelmingly believes councils should provide greater transparency on property investments,” thr report says, quoting a survey by YouGov.

“Some of the smallest local authorities in England have amassed debts the equivalent of more than ten times their spending power to buy commercial property such as shopping centres, supermarkets and business parks. The number of councils investing in real estate to generate revenue has doubled in the past two years.

“Councils say the deals are low risk and bring in extra revenue to replace funding cut by central government. However, some experts have warned borrowing to fund the purchases ties the future of vital public services to the uncertainty of the property market, says the report.

To read it in full follow this link https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2018-12-04/public-is-kept-in-the-dark-over-councils-billion-pound-property-deals

2 thoughts on “Hastings council debt to PWLB tops £65 million

  1. It is frankly an eye watering figure for the public to digest. Especially when it is your local authority running up gargantuan debts like this. While the majority of commercial property owners and investors are running from the retail real estate, here we have HBC vacuuming it up.
    All conducted behind the scenes in total confidentiality by exactly whom and by what professional advice. No transparency whatsoever and the only time you know anything is when that Land Registry title is in the council’s name.
    You have to wonder if this is another exercise of Bluffocracy where we appear to have a council run by people whose knowledge and professional acumen extends a mile wide yet an inch deep.
    Tonight’s meeting will not only be reviewing this property spree but also the Bohemia master plan to tell the public how this area another project with a figure of £72m being quoted, something that you know is “pie in the sky” and destined to increase by millions more. A smaller example being the Huff & Puff visitors centre of straw bails.
    No doubt this meeting will find this panel of councilors pontificating their inexpertise and bluffing us on how this development is so essential to the borough. Question I have is where is that £72m coming from? Why can’t it be lowest amount guessed at £25m and just restore what is there and retain the existing few green spaces left in the town.
    Like HBC most councils appear to be run by people who have no real specialist skills in what they are doing. The bottom line is it makes them feel good and how they are doing wonderful things for our community. Asking what we the public think about this Bohemia project is irrelevant.

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