The BORROWING plans of the Cotswold District Council have been debated in parliament.

MP for the Cotswolds, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons last week to raise the issue of the council’s plan to borrow £76.5 million.

The Liberal Democrats in power have said that the funds would be used to boost the local economy and tackle the climate emergency.

However, Sir Geoffrey has branded it a “reckless proposal”.

He said: “The fact that I brought the issue of Cotswold District Council’s reckless amount of borrowing of £76.5 million before the House is important."

He explained that borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board at 3.3 per cent would involve repayments of over £3 million a year for the next 25 years.

Sir Geoffrey has also noted that the district council has raised taxes by £5, a 3.6 per cent increase.

“This will clearly put the Council’s finance in jeopardy and mortgage council taxpayers in the Cotswold’s for a generation," he added.

“I urge the Liberal Democrat councillors to think again about this reckless proposal”

READ MORE: MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown slams Cotswold council for borrowing

Sir Geoffrey stated that £46.5m of the funds would be spent on the purchase of five solar farm sites.

Furthermore, the council plans to borrow £25m for economic development and asset utilisation, and £1.8m for housing.

Sir Geoffrey, deputy chair of the Public Accounts Committee, raised the recommendation to prohibit loans from the Public Works Loan Board for “exotic investments”, such as solar farms, purely to make a return on the investment.

The Minister for Levelling Up Communities, Kemi Badenoch, responded to the Cotswold MP, acknowledging that "disproportionate levels of debt expose councils to financial risk". 

READ MORE: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown responds to Lib Dem's Cotswold river sewage concerns

District council leader Joe Harris has said that Sir Geoffrey should be focusing on other matters.

“Mr Clifton-Brown is just playing party politics and wasting parliamentary time when our MPs should be focusing on the big issues affecting residents,” he said.

“Despite having plenty of opportunities he has never raised his concerns about this issue with me or council officers."

He explained that in the long-term the borrowing will be beneficial, and will avoid services being cut.

He said: “These projects will also allow the Council to achieve a financial return that will help support our budget in future as we face further budget cuts from the Government. 

“All of these investments will be subject to an individual business case appraisal that will be scrutinised and approved by the Cabinet or the full Council.

“Other councils locally, including Gloucester and Tewkesbury which are run by the Conservatives, are following a similar path to us with respect to borrowing to invest; I don't recall the Conservatives raising concerns in these instances."

He added: "What Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and the Conservatives won’t tell you is what their alternative is.

"That’s because their alternative is cutting services that people rely on such as the waste service, housing and community grants and sacking people who are working on the Council’s priorities - tackling the climate emergency, supporting our economy and delivering affordable housing.”