DCSIMG

Town hall cash ‘robbing’ claim

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Town Hall

  • by Shelagh Parkinson
 

COUNCILLORS have clashed over how much Blackpool has in the coffers for a rainy day.

Former council leader Coun Peter Callow has accused the current Labour administration of “robbing” the town hall reserves.

But Labour hit back - blaming the Conservatives for spending the cash in the first place – and the deal they signed to buy The Tower.

Coun Callow told a meeting of the council: “When Labour took control from the Conservatives, we left you with healthy working balances of £6.1m.

“At the time I forecast you would raid those balances and I have been proved right.

“By the end of this year you will have robbed them of a third – they will be down to £4.3m.”

Coun Callow added: “Years ago we were advised by the auditors that a unitary authority of our size should have balances of at least £5m.

“There has been mismanagement of the balances – let’s hope you can turn it round, because if you don’t you will be out.”

But council leader Coun Simon Blackburn hit back, saying the Tories were the ones who had spent the cash.

He said: “The balances are down, I agree.

“They are down because there has been a £2.1m contribution to the leisure asset deal signed by the previous administration.

“If you take that out, we have actually contributed £300,000 to the total.”

The Conservatives were in power when the council bought The Tower, Winter Gardens and the Golden Mile Centre for £40m in 2010.

The council contributed £10m to the acquisition, which included some borrowed funds which will be repaid using revenue from the attractions.

Town hall chiefs must retain balances in order to meet any unexpected costs during the financial year.

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