A grand 2007 plan to improve the centres of five towns is set to burden the council tax-payers of Argyll and Bute with debt for the next 20 years, the Dunoon Observer can reveal.
The multi-million pound CHORD project was originally developed as a competition, with Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon each submitting a business case for their own improvement projects. A ‘winner’ was to have been chosen but, in 2007, Argyll and Bute Council decided that a smaller amount was to go to each town.
Campbeltown’s regeneration plans were to cost £6.5 million, Helesburgh £6.66 million, Oban £6.9 million, Rothesay £2.9 million and Dunoon £8.3 million – a total of over £30m.
What has not been widely realised until today, however, is that all of the CHORD cash is to be BORROWED by the council.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the extent of the true cost – and how much has already been spent by the council on consultants.
Asked how much debt the council is planning to accrue, the response was: “The council has budgeted to accrue £30.76m of debt as the council’s contribution to the CHORD works.”
We than asked how much it would cost to service the borrowed funds and the response was: “The annual debt servicing costs will be £2.51m per annum for 20 years.”
This means the CHORD project will cost the cash-strapped Argyll and Bute Council more than £50m over the next 20 years.
The council confirmed this afternoon: "The £2.51m per annum includes interest and principal repayments, similar to a repayment mortgage."
It was also revealed that, so far in the CHORD project, consultants have been paid £1,869,623.
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