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Bonkers Blog February 2016

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8 February - General Purposes report. Generally dull

Another General Purposes Committee meeting is only two days away and the last one is not reported yet, it lasted fewer than 40 minutes.
General Purposes
The first item on the Agenda was a slightly technical report by Deputy Finance Director John Peters, the subject was the calculation of the Council Tax base, “a precursor to setting the Council Tax rate”. It is “the number of Band D equivalents in the borough”.

It is an estimate based on the number of new builds and demolitions taking into account the single person’s discount and Council Tax support scheme and an allowance for non-collection.

This year is up on 2015 by about 1,500 Band D properties and 900 of that is due to the phased withdrawal of Council Tax support. i.e. Poor people will in total have to cough up Council Tax equivalent to nearly 1,000 houses more than in 2015. The other 600 is due to new development.

As soon as John Peters had finished speaking Councillor Nigel Betts (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) stepped in “to move the recommendation” - and then decided to ask a question.

How does “the levy for Adult Social care slot in?”. John Peters said it had no impact at all, it was just an extra 2% which would be tacked on at the end of all other calculations.

Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) wanted to know if the premiums on unoccupied property were actually collected. The answer was that a little over half were.

A similar report on Business Rates followed and there were no questions.

Pay Policy was next on the Agenda. The most noteworthy item was that the Chief Executive will no longer be paid £10,500 for his ten minute delivery of local election results. His or her expense allowance will be reduced by £2,000 per annum too. The salary ratio of the highest paid executive with the median will be 7:1.

The government is proposing that staff given exit payments in excess of £80,000 who rejoin the public sector within twelve months should be required to repay the sum on a sliding scale prompting memories of CE Nick Johnson. He went to work for Hammersmith after Bexley gave him a £300,000 pay off and a £50,000 pension for life.

The exit payment would likely be capped too with a proposed maximum of £95,000.

Councillor Betts was again eager to be first to move the proposals.

Next up was the Staff Disciplinary and Dismissal Procedures which were briefly mentioned last week. In essence Councillors may do whatever they like from running unlicensed strip shows to lying to and insulting members of the public but staff who “Act in a way prejudicial to the Council’s interests in dealing with members of the public” will, if found guilty, be dismissed without notice.

Bexley Council continues to refuse to allow disciplinary procedures to be recorded. Well it would rather cramp their rule bending style wouldn’t it?

Note: There is another GP meeting on Wednesday 10th. If you want to know what goes on there you will have to attend yourself because I have a conflicting engagement.


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