THE CITY council risks going bust over spendthrift “ideological” policies, it has been claimed.

Conservative Party group leader on Brighton and Hove City Council Steve Bell CBE said the authority is at risk of going bankrupt.

He pointed to the recent report into the Labour-led Croydon Council which declared a section 114 notice of bankruptcy last year.

Cllr Bell said schemes such as loans to the i360 in Brighton have put taxpayers at risk, and said the fact that the Green Party and Labour are effectively in coalition with each other means there is a lack of scrutiny about decisions.

“The city council is reaching the point where it cannot afford any further self-inflicted harm if it is to balance its books,” he said.

But Green Party councillor Tom Druitt said the Tories’ claims have “no basis in reality” and said auditors of the council’s coffers gave the authority a “clean bill of health”.

Meanwhile the Labour Party says Cllr Bell ought to write to his own Tory ministers to ask them to “stop the cuts and properly fund local authorities”.

The row comes as council chiefs tackle the ongoing impact on businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Bell said taxpayers have taken the risk over investments into private companies.

The Tories also said there has been “unsustainable overspending”, accusing the council of squandering £16 million in “self-inflicted harm”.

The group accused Labour and the Greens of “mismanagement and policy failures” and said administrations have taken a “blame game approach” toward the Conservative government.

This included a £10 million decision to go in-house for council repairs, a £3 million overspend at CityClean, a £3.3 million admin error for schools, and £800,000 of lost revenue from the Madeira Drive closure.

Cllr Bell said: “The city cannot afford any more ideas based on ideology such as insourcing housing repairs, meddling with home to school transport or stopping cars parking which break the budget.

“Recent proposals like paying volunteers is an example of an idea that should be dropped.

“Green and Labour Councillors in Brighton and Hove must learn lessons from the Croydon Report – and quickly.”

But Cllr Druitt said the Green-led council has a good financial record, only borrowing a fraction of the funds compared to Croydon, and the authority has “healthy reserves”.

He said the Greens are putting forward plans for a balanced budget next year that will eliminate a deficit this year.

“We have strained every sinew to protect core services from the worst of cuts as far as possible,” he said, and said a housing deal will create 176 more council homes.

Cllr Druitt said: “Critically, despite the huge challenges, our financial governance means that Greens have been able to put forward plans for a balanced budget next year whilst also eliminating the deficit this year.

“It is Conservative governments that have removed £110 million in funding from this council’s budget since 2010. Nationally, Tory mismanagement and last minute prevarication on Brexit and coronavirus has put public finances and many businesses in their worst position in living memory.

“There will still be constraints this year and we are fighting to do the best for our city. Given the immense challenges, we in fact hope Conservative councillors will agree that it is vital the city council has a balanced budget and joins us in defending essential public services from government failings.”

Labour said: “We are very concerned about the number of businesses at risk in Brighton and Hove, the number of people losing their jobs, and the growing number of people relying on foodbanks and charities to survive.

“As the fifth richest country in the world, this is unacceptable and the Conservative Government urgently need to take action to combat poverty in our city and across the UK.”