Bexley council is to hold its first public cabinet of 2015 this
evening and I have been reading through the agenda. It makes for gloomy reading.
Financial problems abound. I’ll probably hear councillor Philip Read blaming
Labour for the mess, he usually uses every opportunity.
The solution to the mess appears to be widespread price increases on top of the 39 (now 51) ‘cuts’. Everything from late library returns to day care and funerals will be more expensive.
The foreword to the fees document refers to rises of the order of 3%. They wouldn’t be twisting the truth again would they?
• Day Care charges of £42.50 (maximum) increased to £50 (maximum)
• Care Homes £330.50 to £495 per week
• All library charges up 10% give or take the odd pence
• Rowing boat hire up £1 to £12 per half hour
• Watersport tickets up 90 pence to £10.50
• Football/Rugby/Cricket pitch hire all increased by about 5%
• Funeral charges up by 10% and more with a few exceptions
• Charges to solicitors’ enquiries up by either 50% or 73%
• Food safety certificate fees up, some by as much as 30%
• Charges to charities for use of parks etc., all up around 10%
• Use of parks for wedding photos, increased by 20%
• Naming of roads, all increased by 50% give or take the odd pound
• Street works licences up 10%
• Emptying wheeled bins not put out by householder, up 12% to £20
How this comes to a 3% increase is hard to fathom but it still won’t be enough. Council tax is likely to rise by 2%.
Nothing looks good. It has been obvious for years that Bexley council was heading for the financial precipice. The same reason for going for a tax increase this year rather than a grant has applied in earlier years too. Conservative management of the coffers has been done with an eye on the ballot box instead of the long term wellbeing of the borough.
I found no reference to the proposed domestic recycling charges but the new bins are to cost £1,166,000.
The consultation process was advertised reasonably widely and high profile campaigns such as those over libraries and the Belvedere Splash Park no doubt helped to boost the responses to double the usual number, 1,821 this time, but it’s odds on that not one suggestion will be adopted, the financial chasm is far too big.