AN investigation has found Renfrewshire Council loaned £9million to a local authority in England that invested huge sums of cash in solar energy. The money was part of short-term lending deals between councils throughout the UK that are now commonplace to manage debt and invest in large projects. Working with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (The Bureau), The Gazette has looked at local authority debt across the UK. The probe found that Thurrock Council, in Essex, borrowed more than £1billion, including cash from Renfrewshire, and invested more than £600m in the solar power industry. Although The Bureau did not ask Renfrewshire directly for loan information, the council showed up on £35m in loans to other UK local authorities. These include West Dunbartonshire Council, which borrowed £5m from Renfrewshire. According to government data, Renfrewshire Council is one of the country’s big lenders, with £123m in loans to other local authorities as of the third quarter of 2019/20. Council officials said the lending is a well-established practice and managed prudently, adding that Renfrewshire currently has £83m deposited with other councils around the UK.
The Gazette 16th June 2020 read more »