THE local MP has slammed Eastleigh Borough Council after it was revealed to have debts of more than 10 times its annual budget.

Mims Davies says using tax payers’s cash for “potentially risky investments” is endangering services.

Revealed by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, it shows that the authority currently has borrowing of £363 million, which is almost 12 times its annual budget of £31 million.

But council leader Keith House has hit back at the claims, citing that the authority has “one of the best records in the country at keeping council tax down and protecting services”.

In the recently released data, it shows that the authority has made large investment in assets outside of its controlled area, including £18,126,430 in Aviation Business Park at Bournemouth International Airport in August 2017, and £23,045,000 in One City Park, Hove in January this year.

Ms Davies said: “I understand that the Liberal Democrats (controlling party) on Eastleigh Borough Council are keen to fund the 8 per cent pay rise that they awarded themselves this year, however, more and more of my constituents are realising the crippling level of debt that this small council has now amassed.

“With £363 million-worth of debt – £8,000 for every household in the borough – and having borrowed just over 11 times its budget, Eastleigh Borough Council must stop burying these decisions in exempt business at Cabinet meetings where the majority of councillors and members of the public have no sight of these decisions and the risk that they pose to local services.”

In the report released by the Bureau, councils across the county say that they have been forced to find new ways to generate income given the steep cuts in government funding, which the National Audit Office calculates has fallen by half in real terms since 2010.

But experts warn that commercial property investments are volatile, and the fact that councils are financing them through borrowing makes them even riskier.

Cllr House, whose party holds 32 of the 39 council seats, said: “Eastleigh Borough Council has one of the best records in the country at keeping council tax down and protecting services. The Conservatives look with envy at our record: Council tax down, in real terms, 15 years in a row with not only no cuts to services, but funding put back into areas that the Conservative-run county council has cut, like libraries, theatres and youth services.

“Rather than scare-mongering, Mims Davies would do better standing up for Eastleigh residents in Parliament fighting cuts to public services rather than following the failed Government line of unnecessary continued austerity.”