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Slough Borough Council's debt hits more than £500 million

Slough Borough Council’s debt has been revealed as totalling more than £500 million but the council leader said he expects ‘significant’ returns on investments in the future.

The council’s Treasury Management Annual Report was discussed by cabinet members during a meeting at SBC’s new multi-million pound 25 Windsor Road headquarters last night.

The report said the local authority’s debt, as of March 31 this year, stood at £559,020 million due to a combination of short and long-term borrowing.

Money owed included an £125.8 million loan taken out in 2012 which allowed the council to take control of its housing stock and invest in house building in the borough.

Council leader James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) told the meeting that while the council’s debt pile was larger than a decade ago, he was confident council investments in the town would return ‘significant sums’.

He said: “Most of this (debt) is in arrangements that are quite secure and are all tied to us getting quite healthy returns on our investments in terms of the long-term leases for the hotels and things like that where there will be significant sums of money down the line.”

Work is underway on two new hotels at the old library site which will be owned by the council and leased to the Marriot group.

The meeting was also told that the council has made £114 million worth of investments including almost £30 million spent on temporary accommodation in the town, provided by the council’s own housing company James Elliman Homes.

Investments have since been made outside of the borough with an £8 million purchase of an Odeon cinema in Basingstoke and a £11.9 million deal for a distribution centre in Bradford.

Cllr Swindlehurst added: “It’s a changed environment from where we were a decade ago where we had £120 million of investment and £120 million of debt and it felt like you could almost liquidate all your investments.

“Now the debt pile is larger but the amount we’re doing is larger.”

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