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New ABC Council racks up debts of more £50m in first year

Craigavon Civic Centre

A cash-strapped ABC council may look to borrow from its neighbours after raking up debts of over £50m in its first full year in existence.

The level of Council borrowings on September 30, 2015 stood at £50.4m.

This still hasn’t stopped the ABC Council plans for a £160 million five-year spending spree across the Borough.

There are plans afoot for the £28 million redevelopment of Armagh Gaol as a luxury hotel, as well as a new £30 million leisure centre in Armagh city.

A £1.25 million ski slope in Craigavon is on the cards with Portadown and Lurgan Town Halls each getting a facelift at a total cost £6.6m.

Nonetheless, as part of a regional tender, the Council has sought the help of financial experts. In a report presented to councillors, it states that Council has recently “engaged the expertise of external advisors Arlingclose to assist officers with investment decisions and general treasury management advice”.

This company provides regular advice regarding the credit ratings of financial institutions and the general financial health of these institutions.

The report added that officers will be reviewing long and short term borrowing requirements. One of these “potentially more favourable options” will be short-term “borrowing from other Local Authorities”.

However, it must be noted that the Council has not borrowed during 2015/16 to date and does not expect to borrow in 2015/16.

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