Councillors hear of ‘considerable’ challenges ahead

BOSTON Borough Council has been told it will need ‘all the skills and expertise’ it has to overcome the financial challenges ahead.

This was the message to the authority when the Audit Commission’s Tony Crawley spoke to council’s audit committee on Monday.

Mr Crawley, a district auditor, congratulated the council on the progress it has made in the last year, but warned ‘there’s a long way to go and the challenges facing you are very considerable’.

He was there to talk about his annual audit letter. This, members learnt, came at a fee of £11,000 more than expected, due in part to a review of the £1.9 million loan write to Boston Sports Initiative (BSI).

Mr Crawley explained because the council had decided in June the loan was not recoverable it should not be included as a debt in last year’s accounts.

Councillors expressed their concern the authority had now ‘lost a valuable bargaining chip’ (in Coun John Storry’s words) with BSI over how the Princess Sports Arena it operates should be run in the future. Mr Crawley stressed the change was apolitical.

Mr Crawley said, however, there was a ‘imperative need’ to sort out leisure provision in the borough. Cabinet member Coun Richard Lenton said he agreed, going as far to say the council’s spend on leisure was, he guessed, ‘about 50 per cent too high, maybe more’.

A report by the borough’s chief executive, Richard Harbord, on leisure provision is due to go before cabinet members on Wednesday.

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