Bolton Council has some of the lowest debt of any council in Greater Manchester according to data from the BBC.

It owes around £158m to lenders, the lowest in the region per resident, and the second lowest in the region in total.

The Bolton News understands the majority of the sum, around £100m, consists of a long-term loan for investment into the Bolton Town Centre Masterplan.

It is paid for with the council's share of the dividends from Manchester Airport.

It is understood the rest of the sum consists of other long-term loans, for investment into other one-off infrastructure, which are not set to mature for more than two decades.

The debt of around £158m works out at around £534 per resident, compared to Manchester Council's debt of around £1bn which works out around £1,868 per resident.

In the UK the highest debt of any council is Birmingham Council, around £3bn, and the highest debt of any council per resident is Woking Council at £18,756 per resident.

Both of them are among the six councils to issue a Section 114 notice since 2020 meaning they are not able to set a balanced budget and no expenditure is allowed apart from on statutory services.

Dame Meg Hillier, a London MP and the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said the position across the country is "staggering" but this borough appears to be in a somewhat stronger situation.

Nick Peel, the leader of Bolton Council, said: "This is part and parcel of how any average large council operates.

"Borrowing is always for one-off pieces of capital expenditure. Borrowing is not allowed for day-to-day services. 

"If you compare it to how HM Government works it is completely different. HM Government has a huge debt because they don't have to balance the budget. They accrue a huge debt to run services.

"So local government is more efficient than national government and it is probably the most efficient bit of the public sector."

The Bolton News: Labour leader Cllr Nick Peel

On the comparison with the other authorities, Cllr Peel said: "Other authorities might have been less risk averse than Bolton. 

"It is fair to say we have had a good series of good treasurers and we manage our finances prudently."

Here is the data from the BBC:

1) Manchester - £1,027,398,000 - £1,868 per resident 
2) Stockport - £521,370,000 - £1,766 per resident 
3) Wigan - £393,166,000 - £1,192 per resident 
4) Salford - £332,800,000 - £1,229 per resident
5) Trafford - £303,095,000 - £1,287 per resident 
6) Rochdale - £205,036,000 - £915 per resident 
7) Bury - £190,237,000 - £981 per resident 
8) Oldham - £160,996,000 - £665 per resident
9) Bolton - £158,000,000 - £534 per resident 
10) Tameside - £142,121,000 - £615 per resident

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.