Bradford Bulls is one of only three businesses in the city to be given a commercial loan from Bradford Council, which confirmed it has lent companies more than £6 million of taxpayers’ money over the last four years.

Responding to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the authority confirmed it had negotiated commercial loans with a total of £6.35 million with three firms in the district between 2009 and 2013, with interest rates of between 2.5 per cent and 22.2 per cent.

It refused to reveal the amount of each individual loan, or who it had been made to, but the Telegraph & Argus last month reported how the Bulls had been granted a £200,000 commercial loan, which must be paid back with interest.

It is also known the Council granted a loan of more than £6 million to Northern Irish construction company McAleer & Rushe in 2009 so it could complete the £45 million Southgate complex in the city centre, which includes the head office for Provident Financial and a Jury’s Inn hotel.

Both of these would account for the majority of the £6.35 million figure.

Councillor David Green, leader of the Labour-run Council, admitted the small number of Council commercial loans given showed they were “unusual”, but said he was not aware of how many applications had been turned down.

Asked in what circumstances the Council granted commercial loans, he said: “There is no strict written down policy. We look at each case and consider the risk involved and clearly the interest rates will vary depending on the risks. We also look at the purpose of the loan and the issues about both commercial and financial benefits to the district.

“There are several issues where, due to the ongoing problems in the banking sector, businesses are unable to access additional finances. We have granted three. It is not a decision taken lightly or politically. All the information is looked at carefully by professional people and the bottom line is making sure we will get the money back.”

Asked about the 2.5 per cent interest rate, he said it was his “assumption” the risk involved in that loan was low.

But Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Council’s Conservative group, expressed concerns over the scale of the interest rates.

He said: “First, I have to say this comes as news to me. There’s a concern when officers make decisions that I, as a councillor, know nothing about. But 22.2 per cent sounds like ‘loan shark’ and 2.5 per cent sounds extremely low.”

He said he believed councillors should be involved in making decisions on whether to grant commercial loans, but did not object to them being made.

“I think as long as the Council gets its money back and the loan would stimulate employment or economic vibrancy then I would not be opposed,” he said. “But it’s a concern to me that residents elect councillors to represent them, but councillors are not informed about these things.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, spokesman for the Council’s Liberal Democrat group, was not available for comment, but has previously expressed concerns over the Council giving a loan to Bradford Bulls after it refused to save the Thornton birthplace of the Brontes.