Liberal Democrat Councillor Ben Chapelard, has called for the council to ‘come clean about tax rises and cuts to services’ to repay the £72million debt that will be3 incurred to build the new Civic Comkplex.
Cllr Chapelard’s comments come after Conservative Council Leader David Jukes revealed the council will need to find £2.4million every year for the next 50 years to pay back the loan to build the centre and theatre.
The Lib Dem for St James Ward said: “Soon the borough council will get no money from central government and, because of the cuts wielded by none other than Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark they will actually be paying back £600,000 to the treasury to be spent by other councils.
He questioned how the council could afford the proposed buildings and asked if council tax was going to rise to plug the shortfall.
Cllr Chapelard added: “Some councils are moving to monthly bin collections. Is this being considered by the Conservative-run TWBC to save money to pay for the theatre? Will the council charge for green waste collection? Or doorstep glass recycling to pay back the debt?
“Residents must have their say on whether these cuts and tax rises are an acceptable price to pay for these new public buildings. They have a right to know the price they will pay for these facilities.”
His concerns echo those of the nine Conservative rebels that voted against continuing to fund the project’s development during the most recent meeting of the full council.
However, Cllr Jukes has said that at the current fixed rate of under three per cent, by the time the loan matures in 50 years the £2.4million repayments will seem like ‘peanuts’.