Opposition councillors have issued a warning over Enfield Council’s projected £2 billion debt pile – despite council bosses insisting its finances are sustainable.

Members of the Conservative Group warned the extra borrowing needed to fund big regeneration schemes would ultimately hit taxpayers as the council pays off its debt rather than investing in services.

But members of the Labour administration defended their spending plans and said they were investing in projects that would improve people’s lives in some of the poorest parts of the borough.

The debate came at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (January 29).

Conservative leader Cllr Joanne Laban (Highlands) said: “We are continuing to spend even though the debt pile is mounting.

“If you continue to spend, the interest on our debt will surely impact the-day to-day services that residents crucially rely on.

“If you do not get a return on investment, it will be the very people the administration wants to help that will feel the failure the most.”

Conservative councillors warned the council’s draft treasury management report suggests Enfield Council will be £2 billion in debt by the end of the decade.

The council pays off interest on debt from its revenue account – which also funds waste collections, social care and other services.

Opposition councillors also pointed out that auditors BDO highlighted in a recent report to the audit and risk management committee that the council “may not be financially sustainable in the medium term”.

Tory members called for a “full review of the viability of all existing and proposed capital projects” and a comprehensive savings plan to ensure the council’s budget gap is not larger than its reserves.

But cabinet member for finance and procurement Cllr Mary Maguire (Labour, Palmers Green) said the council’s chief finance officer had recently written to her to assure her the local authority would continue to deliver a “robust” budget.

Cllr Maguire said the auditor’s report was a “risk assessment, not a conclusion about where we are”, pointing out that last year the council had been given a “clean bill of health” by the auditor.

She added: “This administration is ambitious for Enfield. We have got many exciting developments and projects to make Enfield an even better place to live and work in.

“If the opposition wants to talk about debt, let’s talk about the £1.8 trillion of debt racked up by the Tory government over the past few years – and still we have austerity, cuts to funding, bedroom tax, cuts to benefits, cuts to the poorest, and still the debt piles up.

“What we really need is a government to realise you can’t run local government on the cheap. You can’t protect and support our vulnerable, our elderly, our disabled, our children on the cheap.”

Cllr Lee David-Sanders (Conservative, Highlands) criticised the council’s record on delivering building projects in the past.

He warned the council’s finances could be put at risk by an “increase on the rate of Public Works Loan Board interest, another risky project overrun, or another lot of unrealised savings”, adding: “The only people who will pick up the bill are the residents of Enfield.”

But council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan (Labour, Jubilee) said: “I am utterly committed that we will make investment required in the parts of the borough that have been forgotten about.”

She added: “You talk about £2 billion of borrowing – it is £2 billion of investment in this borough.

“We think borrowing to invest in communities that need it the most makes a difference to their life chances.”

When it was put to a vote, the opposition business was rejected after members of the Labour administration voted against.