This is why Blackpool Council's debt is set to top £111m in the next two years

Blackpool Council’s long term debt is predicted to total £111.1m by the end of 2023/24 with £26.6 m set aside for repayments in that time.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 12:39 pm
Town hall finances have been under scrutiny

The figures were revealed to the Scrutiny Leadership Board in a report which said the bulk of council borrowing was linked to the £200m business loans fund and regeneration schemes.

Both of these “generate a financial return to the council above the borrowing cost and a lot of the schemes are asset backed.”

At the end of 2020, the council had granted nine loans worth more than £2m from its business loans fund, which are repaid with interest and secured against assets.

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These are £41.1m to Blackpool Housing Company, £37.7m to Blackpool Transport, £12m to Ocean Boulevard III (Pleasure Beach hotel), £9.2m to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals; £8.6m to Coolsilk (Sands Hotel developer), £6m to Blackpool Entertainment Company (Winter Gardens), £5.6m to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, £4.5m Create Construction (Hampton by Hilton hotel developer), and £2.8m to Blackpool Airport.

A number of loans are to the council’s own wholly owned companies after it decided in October last year to set up a a £24m recovery fund to support them following the Covid pandemic.

Steve Thompson director of resources at the council, said the loans fund had been set up “to boost the economy and create jobs in the town”.

Loans were more flexible than those offered by banks, and consistently reviewed over time.

Mr Thompson said all councils were now involved in some level of commercial activity, which was monitored independently and showed Blackpool to be “well below average” in comparison to other local authorities.

But activity such as the council’s property investment porfolio generated around £2m a year to support services.

The meeting heard the council’s best performing property investments were Marton Mere Caravan Park and Blackpool Zoo.

In 2020/21 the council made a total of almost £50m in capital expenditure, with around half of that coming from external grants.

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