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Coronavirus: Derry and Strabane Council will be insolvent in months if aid does not arrive: SDLP

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Warning: John Boyle

Warning: John Boyle

PA

Warning: John Boyle

DERRY and Strabane Council will be insolvent by the end of the year unless central government steps in with financial help, a former mayor has warned.

Coronavirus measures have left the council's coffers depleted, according to SDLP councillor John Boyle.

While officials say there are no plans to either furlough or lay staff off at the minute, a spokeswoman confirmed the financial impact of coronavirus was "significant".

Mr Boyle said: "In order for the council to continue in the normal way it will require government subsidy - and significant government subsidy. If there is no support for our council or any other council then we will be technically insolvent by end of the calender year.

"At this point, it isn't the case that this is a risk to jobs - but if this carries on and there is no government support, then that can't be ruled out.

"There is discretionary spending that council can look at - the kind of spending we put into festivals and events that we can look at if there is no support."

A council spokeswoman said: "The current Covid-19 emergency situation has had a significant financial impact on council. In particular, the emergency has resulted in a considerable loss of income from council services and facilities."

The situation at Derry and Strabane Council is replicated across Northern Ireland, according to the head of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), Derek McCallan. He said: "To say the situation facing not just councils but citizens and ratepayers is perilous is an understatement.

"Imagine having no sports and cultural funding and imagine not having the facilities to participate in those, which is the stark reality? NILGA has, together with all councils and their senior officer teams, presented the short and long-term finances required to keep councils open beyond the summer to the Treasury and to Stormont."

Belfast Telegraph