The cost of improving existing roads and building new ones is the cause of a political clash in Swindon Borough Council.

Labour councillors are alarmed that the Conservative-led administration is going to borrow millions of pounds to improve the road network ahead of the construction of up to 8,000 new houses in the major expansion of the town.

They say the public is taking all the risk and developers will be taking all the profit.

But they found themselves in the uncomfortable position of voting against a motion one of their number introduced, and watching it pass.

The motion to council brought by Jim Robbins said: “In order to fund these transport schemes and other community projects, cabinet plan to borrow £59.4m by 2025/26. This will have massive implications on the council’s revenue budget with annual debt charges expected increase by £12m by 2028/29. Cabinet agreed to these spending decisions despite it being highlighted in the report that they were a ‘significant risk’.”

It asked the cabinet to reconsider its decision with a new report.

Coun Robbins said: “Conservative councillors have told us there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

“But it seems there is if you’re a property developer. Redrow Homes have announced record profits of £850m, Persimmon made £1bn, Taylor Wimpey £800m.

“The cabinet member for strategic planning says we will get the money back from the developers in Section 106 payments, but we know they game the system, that’s how they operate.”

The cabinet member for planning, Gary Sumner, said the council was actually borrowing much less because it wouldn’t have to build the later infrastructure, such as schools, until housing started going up. He said by that point developers would be making contributions, the authority would be in receipt of £48m funding from government and a bid for another £18m from the housing infrastructure fund would have been made.

A Conservative amendment was then made to the Labour motion which removed the concerns about the borrowing and welcomed the decision to improve roads at the White Hart Roundabout, Gablecross, London Road and the new southern connector road.

That was passed with Conservative councillors' votes. When the changed motion was put to the vote it was again passed by the Tories, with Labour voting against.