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Torbay set to scrap £1m regeneration loan plans

Cash-strapped Torbay Council looks set to abandon plans to borrow more than £1m to regenerate part of Paignton town centre.

The council’s policy development and decision group is due to meet next week (3 September) to discuss a report, which recommends scrapping plans to borrow £1.172m from the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) to improve the Station Square area of Paignton, as part of a larger town centre regeneration project.

In February, councillors unanimously approved the plans, but since that discussion was taken, the council’s financial position has deteriorated and the report states ‘it would not be prudent for the council to invest in this scheme at this time’.

The council is facing an overspend of around £2.8m for 2018/19 with continued pressures on its resources, especially in children’s care.

‘There has been no detailed business case approved and there are currently no other income generating town centre regeneration schemes in the pipeline which could be used to help fund the interest repayments,’ the report adds.

Instead, the report recommends the decision to borrow the money from the PWLB is ‘not implemented’ and that ‘alternative sources of funding are explored and a detailed business case is produced before any further work is carried out on this scheme’.

Earlier this month, Torbay Council announced an ‘immediate moratorium’ on all non-urgent expenditure.

Chief executive Steve Parrock said the number of Children Looked After (CLA) has increased by 20% since November 2017 and 10% since the beginning of this financial year.

‘In order to protect our reserves we have put in place the moratorium,’ added Mr Parrock.

‘This means that even if an activity or contract is budgeted for, it may be postponed or cancelled if it isn’t urgent or required to meet our statutory duties. Every effort continues to be made to bring forward further efficiency savings and deliver our current transformation projects at pace.

“Torbay Council, like other local authorities, continues to face significant financial challenges due to Government funding cuts and increasing demands, particularly in social care, but our current situation is that we have not run out of money or used reserves.

‘We have delivered the planned ‘year on year’ savings and made the necessary cuts as agreed in previous budgets. More difficult decisions will need to be made and we will continue to identify options, priorities and solutions to try to meet the expected future financial challenges.’

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