In a consultation published alongside the Budget, Treasury officials warned that the current trend for investment using borrowed money puts local authorities at risk of a cash crunch. It also distorts the market and introduces risks locally and nationally.

This follows a report by the National Audit Office last month, which your correspondents this week referred to.

Council tax and business rates payers expect the councils to run local services efficiently and economically. We do not want the council to speculate on property investment especially at a time when commercial property companies are selling and taking losses, sometimes in extreme distress. We expect senior council staff and councillors to attend to their proper duties and not pretend they can outfox commercial property professionals.

Andrew Smith

Hemnall Street, Epping