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Paul Harvey calls on borough council to take action
THE activities of pay-day lending firms, and loan sharks, need to be focused on by the borough council, according to a senior politician.
Labour Norden ward councillor Paul Harvey called on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to look into its ethical lettings policy to see if it can introduce rules that would block pay-day lenders using council buildings.
And he urged members to back a report looking into whether planning laws could restrict the number of pay-day loan shops.
The motion, from the deputy leader of the Labour group, also tasked the council to investigate ways that organisations such as the Credit Union could be promoted.
Cllr Harvey urged the council to see what it can do to help debt advice agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, which has branches in Tadley and Basingstoke’s Festival Place, as well as Money Lifeline.
“We’re asking tonight for us to investigate thoroughly, understand, and then take action on the issue of debt and credit that so many people are facing in Basingstoke,” Cllr Harvey told the council.
“We want this council to lead and also be an exemplar for tackling debt and credit issues. These pay-day loan companies and loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable and poorest in society, and we should decide that we do not want them to gain any further foothold in society.”
While Cllr Harvey’s motion received majority support from the 60-strong full council, some were quick to point out that the local authority has limited powers to tackle the problem.
Cllr Rob Golding, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, and a volunteer for Money Lifeline, said: “We have to be frank and say there is a limit to what we can do locally.
“Pay-day loans are a national problem and most pay-day loans are done online and not in the high street.
“The Government is doing a lot to tackle the problem nationally, but it is only right that we, as a council, consider what action we can take.
“The real issue though is just how much debt people are in, and borrowing more money is not always the answer so I think we have to look at it in a wider context.”
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