Lib Dems claim Northampton Borough Council is playing ‘fast and loose’ with taxpayers’ money.

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The former leader of Northampton Borough Council says the current administration is playing fast and loose with taxpayers’ money.

Brian Hoare and his Liberal Democrat colleagues have analysed the Conservatives’ 2014-15 budget, and claim they are borrowing irresponsibly on schemes with no guaranteed financial return.

The party has questioned the administration’s decision to borrow £9 million in 2014-15 for the Greyfriars bus station demolition and for re-opening the top of Abington Street to traffic.

Mr Hoare, who is now acting as the Liberal Democrats’ spokesman on finance, said: “We left the council with a balanced budget. There are other pressures, we know that, but last year the forecast was £1.9 million of savings, and that has gone up to £3.4 million.

“We had a revenue benefit from moving out of Cliftonville, but where is the revenue benefit from Abington Street?

“Is now the time you go and borrow £9 million for things which, on the face of it, are not your responsibility, and there is no clear cost benefit for?”

The Liberal Democrats also say they are concerned that the debt forecast is £7.8 million by 2018-19, and that there will be a budget deficit of £11.4 million by 2019.

The party says the short-term cuts are a lot smaller than the long-term cuts, as the Conservatives do not want to make bigger cuts in the run-up to the local and general elections next year.

Council leader, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm). said his party was delivering on its promises following “four disastrous years at the Guildhall” for the Lib Dems.

Responding to the LibDem comments, council leader David Mackintosh said: “We have delivered a balanced budget each year since coming to power, while at the same time freezing council tax, freezing councillors allowances, increasing front line services and reducing numbers of senior managers.

“We have invested in the regeneration of our town by building a new bus station, a new railway station, and we will soon be knocking down the old Greyfriars building. All the Lib Dems built was resentment.”