Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accuses Labour-run Middlesbrough Council of 'mismanaging finances'

  • Rishi Sunak speaks on a visit to Yarm.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accused Labour-run Middlesbrough Council of 'mismanaging its finances' on a visit to Teesside.

The comments follow calls from local Conservative politicians for commissioners to be brought in to take over the running of the council.

The local authority is facing an expected £6.3 million funding gap and has outlined a raft of proposed cuts in a bid to avoid bankruptcy.

Both Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke and the council's chief executive Clive Heaphy, blamed the previous Independent-Conservative administration for the current decisions that need to be taken.

When asked if the Government would provide support to struggling local authorities, Mr Sunak said: "On average, councils are having about 10 per cent more money to spend this year than they had the year before.

"Actually Middlesbrough Council has even more than the national average and unfortunately, this is just another example of a Labour-run council that's doing badly for its residents, mismanaging its finances and actually that's an example of what you get when Labour are in charge.

"They want to borrow £28bn if they were ever in government, that would push up people's mortgage rates, force them to borrow more and put up people's taxes, we want to control spending and control spending. You just get sound economic management when the Conservatives are in charge."

Middlesbrough is one of a number of councils facing a major funding shortfall, with the Government saying it is 'minded' to send in commissioners to oversee Nottingham City Council which declared itself effectively bankrupt earlier this week.

Earlier this week, a letter was sent to the Under Secretary of State for Local Government Simon Hoare MP, written by Teesside conservative politicians Simon Clarke MP and Tees Valley Mayor Lord Houchen and co-signed by four councillors.

It said: "We believe that we have now reached a point where it is our responsibility to say that we do not believe that the Council can address the challenges it faces alone."

However, Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke said the letter was “littered with inaccuracies” and described the request for commissioners to step in of being “a call to abandon Middlesbrough”.

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