AN East Lancashire local authority has given up chasing almost £300,000 of bad debts.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's ruling executive board on Thursday night agreed to write off the £285,730.47 as irrecoverable.

The debts were caused by businesses going bust.

The total was made up of £214,532.48 in respect of business rates and £71,197.99 in respect of sundry debts.

A report by the authority's finance Cllr Vicky McGurk told senior councillors: "The council’s standing orders and financial regulations stipulate that the strategic director of finance may authorise the write off of any individual debt up to the value of £5,000.

"For those debts above £5,000 and below £30,000, the strategic director of finance in consultation with the executive member for finance can authorise the write off.

"For individual debts where the debt is over £30,000, the case must be referred to the executive board for authorisation.

"This report details these cases for consideration.

"In arriving at a decision to write off a debt, officers must pursue a rigorous process to establish whether funds can be recovered before concluding as a last resort, that the debt is deemed to be irrecoverable. "The companies identified in this report have been pursued as appropriate using all available recovery and enforcement methods.

"Unfortunately it has not been possible to recover the money owed and the only option available is to write the debts off.

"It is good accounting practice to ensure all irrecoverable debts are written off as appropriate.

"A summary of the write offs is £39,270.55 in business rates due to personal insolvency; £70,618.20 in business rates after the company was dissolved £36,594.73 in business rates after the company was dissolved; £68,049.00 in business rates due to company insolvency and £71,197.99 in sundry debt after company insolvency.

"The Council maintains an accounting provision for potential bad debt write off.

"The adequacy of this provision is reviewed each year and is subject to audit review.

"The amount for write off detailed in this report is £285,730.47. The total amount of debt written off is provided for from the bad debt provision.

"Even after the write off of the following debts, the bad debt provision for business rates and sundry debts remains at £1,272,020 and £5,645,947 respectively.

"The council has a duty to pursue and recover outstanding monies due, however, it is inevitable that some debts cannot be recovered for a number of reasons."