LABOUR launched a savage attack on the spending record of Conservative-run Dudley Council during a heated debate on the 2024 budget.

The authority met on March 4 to vote on spending plans for the 2024/25 financial year and front benchers clashed about why the authority ended up fighting-off effective bankruptcy.

Labour’s finance spokesman, Cllr Shaukat Ali, accused the ruling administration of reckless spending over the last year and insisted the day of reckoning had come.

He said: “This year they spent £14.5m on interim agency workers, a million more than the previous year and £1.9m on consultants.”

Cllr Ali added the council had also spent £552,000 on redundancies and £28.3m over the last decade.

He went on, saying £4.7m had gone on paying interest on loans, £2.4m on external legal fees and £547,000 on developing the local plan.

Cllr Ali also claimed £316,000 had been spent on the Black Country plan, which the council later withdrew from.

Later in the meeting, Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of the council, hit back saying the decision to leave the Black Country plan had been vindicated many times and accused Labour of wanting to build homes on greenbelt land.

Housing was also on Cllr Ali’s mind when he brought up £2m being spent on eight ‘luxury’ homes for council housing and said: “Housing must function with greater efficiency and effectiveness, our tenants deserve value for their hard-earned money.”

His remarks were later attacked by cabinet member for housing, Cllr Laura Taylor-Childs who accused the opposition of not lining up their arguments after a contribution from Labour’s Cllr Jackie Cowell.

Cllr Taylor-Childs said: “Cllr Ali begins by criticising our recent acquisition of eight four-bedroomed properties that are going to provide lovely homes for families that are in the most need.

“Cllr Cowell then follows up by saying we need more properties.”

Cllr Ali also claimed the council was owed £20m in uncollected debts and outstanding invoices.

He accused the Tories of not understanding the basics of finance and said the spending was “Eyebrow-raising amounts that painted a bleak picture of this council.”

In response to Cllr Ali, Cllr Harley said: “The moment we knew we had similar issues to Birmingham and Nottingham City Council we took the correct measures with spending controls put in place.

“A near £30m deficit in 2027 has reduced to barely £12m, there are more funds to put in that make our financial position even more improved.”