03:20PM, Thursday 15 February 2018
A Government clampdown on multi-million pound property speculation will not affect the Royal Borough, according to the council leader.
Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) has promised that all spending plans, which includes more than £70m of borrowing in next year’s budget, are ‘completely compliant’ with new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The guidelines have been prompted by cash-strapped councils taking out substantial loans to
invest in the commercial property market.
Cllr Dudley confirmed more than £30million needed for the council to take over the Maidenhead Golf Club site will be funded by borrowing.
He said: “We’re completely compliant and I’m on record to say I’m very pleased about the new guidance.”
He added: “We’re regenerating the Royal Borough and providing facilities to all our residents.
“This isn’t about speculation, this is about building much-needed homes.”
However, Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor Residents’ Association, Old Windsor), leader of the council’s opposition, has queried the thinking behind the spending plans.
Despite praising the work of Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham), cabinet member for finance, for putting the budget together, Cllr Jones said she still had misgivings about whether the proposed development scheme in the borough would make the returns
necessary to repay loans.
In particular, she was concerned about what would happen if the Borough Local Plan (BLP) was refused or delayed, although Cllr Dudley has also said projects such as the one at Maidenhead Golf Course could be carried out without a BLP.
Cllr Jones said: “If Maidenhead Golf Course does not bring in the money that is expected then we will be running a council with a debt.
“I think we should be looking very carefully at the capital spending programme and not committing to anything that has not already been committed to or anything that the regeneration of the borough is not
dependent on until we’re sure the BLP is going through.”
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