FUTURE generations of taxpayers in the Taunton area will be saddled with huge debts following hefty loans taken out by the district council, it is claimed this week.

The warning comes after Taunton Deane Borough Council's executive privately discussed proposals to splash out on buying land owned by a company that left the county town several years ago alongside a plot currently leased by the same firm.

The figures involved in acquiring the interests of optronics firm Thales in Lisieux Way are confidential but would probably involve taking out a loan in excess of £1 million, which would partially be paid off by rental income.

The authority is already committed to heavy borrowing to help fund initiatives such as a massive development at Firepool; refurbishing its Deane House HQ; a shops, offices and homes development on Coal Orchard Car Park; new vehicles for Somerset Waste Partnership; and establishing a small business hub in the former Barnicott's building, in St Augustine Street.

The total amount is not in the public domain due to commercial sensitivities, but the council leader says the initiatives will help deliver frontline services and boost Taunton's economy by attracting investment.

But Independent Cllr Ian Morrell believes the policy of taking out so many loans is building up problems for the future.

He said: "Borrowing on disparate projects again highlights the council's scatter gun approach to Taunton Deane.

"The problem is caused by unlearned leadership coupled with disjointed decision-making and limited accountability.

"The amount of new debt is unsustainable. Significant sums, including £11 million on Deane House refurbishment, will be paid for by additional public borrowing.

"Poorly drafted or non existent business plans accompany these often fanciful proposals.

"Current decisions will be an albatross for generations. I doubt the leadership team would take such an approach if it were their personal money."

Council leader Cllr John Williams said: "These projects are necessary to deliver frontline services to the people of Taunton Deane and to encourage growth and investment in the county town.

"All funding is carefully considered to be cost effective for the council and it is prudent to do so.

"Members are given full information and the choice or whether or not to approve these projects through the democratic process."