Council's debt nearly doubles

THE multi-million pound debts of a Yorkshire council have almost doubled in the last seven years as the authority takes out massive loans to finance major developments.

York Council is now 116m in the red after the previous Labour Government required the authority to borrow 67m to fund projects for schools, housing and roads.

The Liberal Democrat-run council had been 62m in the red at the end of 2002-3, although the scale of the debts has been revealed today by opposition Labour councillors.

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They claimed that the 116m figure is greater than the national debt of countries including Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

The Labour group leader, Coun James Alexander, said: "Since the Lib Dems took control of the council in 2003, they have borrowed year-on-year and increased the council's level of debt by 87 per cent."

Council leader Andrew Waller maintained that 33m of the 67m in borrowing has been paid back. The annual interest on the debts has increased from 3.2m to nearly 4.8m.

Coun Waller added: "Given the wreckage of the national economy that the Labour Party has left behind, they are whistling in the wind here. They are selectively quoting figures."