On Monday 29th June, Luton Borough Council Executive members lined up to criticise the government for not bailing out the Council after the Council loaned hundreds of millions of pounds to their airport company (LLAL) for pre expansion work. This was despite there being no certainty that the application will be approved by Government.
It was agreed at the meeting that every local household will now be required to pay an airport stealth tax if they want all their bins emptied; that cutbacks will be made to social services; and that the most vulnerable will be required to pay more.
Council leaders also said they were planning around 365 job losses that would be targeted principally on the town’s school dinner ladies.
No doubt the Council sees them as an easy target and that the Council will know most can’t afford to be in a trade union to represent them. In addition, other front-line Council employees will be sacked through no fault of their own, after years of “reckless” airport spending.
While every aspect of Council spending is under review, the Council has refused to cut back on its airport spending. In fact, it is accelerating its spending with commitments to lend its airport a further £60m this year and another £23m next year while trying to cut the Council budget by £50m. The Council has deferred the start of the proposed Terminal 2 access road to next year, which has been costed at £124m. This road is hidden in a planning application for a business park that occupies the same land required for airport expansion.
Out of the extra £83m the Council intends to spend on the airport over the next 2 years another £18m is required for the DART Project (Direct Air-Rail Transit). Originally the Council said it would cost £200m. It then became £225m and is now estimated at £243m, as spending on the Council project now appears to be out of control.
With the driverless train not being completed for at least another year the Council has no idea what the final bill will be.
The Council also intends to plough more money into its application for airport expansion while the remainder of the new money is required by LLAL to pay the interest payments on old loans, as we believe LLAL would be bankrupt without a cash injection. Interest payments by LLAL are as high as 11% with some Council loans spread over 50 years.