Wednesday, 1 June 2011

£6m worth of cuts the Tories have left and rising

I can understand the Tories wanting to talk about the positives after 10 years in power and defend themselves against any criticism. However that should not prevent the facts being put forward. They have left £6m worth of cuts, some of which were run up cynically to win the recent local election

Transitional Relief promised twice over

Knowing they had received an extra £2.6m in January (gov't transitional relief) they promised £2.6m to Woodnook at the beginning of February and promised £2million plus at the beginning of March.

They argue that quietly they had decided to axe the £2.6m Woodnook so there was no overspending. Unfortunately the people of Woodnook are claiming quite rightly they had been promised this funding by the Council leader, quoting him and his councillors and the published newspaper article.

Furthermore the Council has potential legal obligations. The chair of the 12 Pathfinders told me that Hull Council are facing two blight compensation notices.

It's been left to Labour to pick up the pieces. However it's even more problematic than that now with the Government offering Woodnook around £1.5m which the Council much match fund 50% out of the £2.6m or face losing the £1.5m.

Either way it amounts to £2.6m worth of disappointment to someone and at last nights’ Woodnook Residents Association there was a feeling of how can someone do this and get away with it.

Failed to balance this years income and expenditure

On the revenue side I am informed that expenditure over income this year is £300,000 which has been taken from reserves.

No plan for a further £2.5m of government cuts before Christmas

The Tories were unable to balance this years books and this in the full knowledge of the cuts the Council has to find up in the next 6 months for next years budget which amount to an additional £2.5m. A total of £2.8m of cuts and that still leaves reserves £300k down. The Tories had no medium term plan to cut expenditure and so Labour Councillors have to find the £2.8m.

The Leader of the Council has long maintained the Gordon Brown was spending way beyond the nations means so why was he not only spending every penny he received but £2m more every year.

Living beyond their means for a decade

The Tories have been living beyond their means for decade. Between 1998 and 2005 The Council had been financing £2m of Capital expenditure through borrowing culminating in debts (non Council Housing) increasing from the previous Labour administration of £11m (1998) to a £27m (2006).

Since 2006 The Council have been funding around £2m of capital works from grants given by the last Labour Government, grants which were given to deprived areas and which now have been axed. This year the Tories put forward  another £2m of capital works - such as £550,000 further to Pendle Street - using what will be the last payment made by the Government.

Re-roofing public buildings for example has to be done from time to time. Capital expenditure is necessary. I have argued for many years that the Council is on a crash course, it is spending (by £2m) beyond it's means. The fact Gordon Brown was so generous is not an argument for sound financial management.

That £2m of capital expenditure will now have to found every year from a £2m further reduction in revenue spending.

Mismanagement adds further costs

The Council's sloppiness in losing the high court case to landlords is expected to cost £100,000k plus any liabilities around the parking fines fiasco.

Add in old refuse vehicles in need of replacement at around £1m with nothing put aside over the last 8 years and you are looking at £6m of reductions due primarily to two reasons;  false promises over the £2.6m and poor political management.

Making sure nothing is left for Labour?

The state of the Council's management is best explained by the Cabinet Action Fund. Weeks before the election the Tories increased it from £68,000 to £100,000 and then spent it all in two weeks (including payments to every Conservative Club) to make sure nothing was left.

Who would run a council so badly?

Through to next April there is no money left in the emergency Cabinet Action Fund. What kind of politician does that? What kind of politician increase the opposition leaders budget before losing an election? The same person who began a debate with the Labour Leader arguing that he wanted to be paid a sizeable parachute payment if he he lost his leaders allowance.