The second part of the Cabinet meeting started well enough but from the point that Cabinet Member
Don Massey was unable to resist slinging political barbs, it was all down hill.
But you probably want to know first by how much the Council Tax is going up. The headline figure is the maximum 1·99% plus the 2% Adults’ Care precept but it’s not quite that simple.
The GLA precept is going down so your bank account will only be raided for 1·83% more. In Greenwich, by contrast, where those horrible Labourites hold sway, the figure is 1·58%.
Click the image for a more readable version.
Finance Director Alison Griffin spent 55 seconds identifying where the money would be mainly going next year. “Growth, school places and transport and social infrastructure.”
Cabinet Member Don Massey said he didn’t have much to say and he said almost nothing. Somebody said “is that it?’
Cabinet Member Linda Bailey said the borough was going for growth and “it is a little bit outside our comfort zone but we are going ahead. It carries risks but it is managed risk”.
“The growth is predicated on significant investment in transport and infrastructure. It is no good going with housing if there is nothing to go with it. There has been a change over the last couple of years, we are now being courted by developers”.
From a council that was dead set on turning its back on transport infrastructure only a couple of years ago, this is one hell of a turnaround. “Bexley is now a council they [developers] can work with. Everyone has to work together”. Changed times, changed attitudes. Welcome to the real world Councillor Bailey.
The capital expenditure proposals were approved unanimously.
Miss Griffin launched another of her short speeches which Councillor Massey welcomed and within seconds the Treasury Strategy was unanimously approved
Council Leader O’Neill said that it was with a heavy heart the Council was recommending a 3·99% Council Tax increase. The 2% Adults’ Care precept will just about cover the new Living Wage. Cabinet Member Eileen Pallen later said it might not quite do that. “It will be nowhere near enough”. The message was, don’t expect Social Care to improve after the 2% tax rise.
The government has been persuaded to provide an extra £720,000 to fund some gaps for two years only. The Finance Director launched the third of her short speeches, this time on her budget report.
Despite the cuts, the efficiency savings and the increased fees and charges, revenue streams are still insufficient. A million pounds will be taken from reserves. Another £25 million would have to be found between 2017 and 2020.
Councillor Don Massey said he was disappointed with the government’s support grant plan and he was also disappointed with the members opposite for not producing an alternative budget “but he was not surprised. They disparaged the Council’s reputation but their words were cheap. Actions are more meaningful than words.”
If Labour had had their way, Council Tax would have to go up by 57% he said.
By comparison, Councillor Craske was the perfect diplomat, not a critical word for anyone, instead he said he had listened to all the complaints about Bexley being spoiled by litter. As a result, he had decided to revert the litter picking schedules to what they used to be. He hoped everyone would back the strategy by voting for the budget next week.
Councillor Philip Read continued with the Labour thrashing. He said yet again that the staffing situation in social services was improving but claimed it could not have happened under Labour’s budget proposals last year.
In order to score a point over Councillor Daniel Francis he said he had been scouring his dictionary, saying that the word perverse “sums up Councillor Francis and his colleagues perfectly. ‘Showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable and unacceptable’. They persistenly resist the financial realities facing Bexley with their demands for increasing expenditure. No doubt we will hear further examples of that tonight or in March.
He went on to rant about the financial instability of socialist run countries in Europe as though George Osborne has been a rip roaring success who has future proofed the British economy.
It was rather strange outburst; the Labour members have been generally cooperative with the Tory’s proposals. Only twenty minutes earlier Councillor Craske had thanked the Labour members for Belvedere for their help and understanding with his Splash Park proposals
Cabinet Members Alex Sawyer and John Fuller both managed to speak about the budget without resorting to unnecessary insults but that achievement proved impossible for Council Leader Teresa O’Neill.
Never one to be outshone by her henchmen when it comes to being thoroughly rude, she asked her Labour opposite number, Councillor Alan Deadman if he was going to make any “proposals in a sensible way rather than coming up with a fag packet”.
Is this really how any professional in any field should be talking to an elected leader of a political party? Is she really the best candidate for the job that Bexley Conservatives can find?
What a cow.
Wisely, Alan Deadman did not respond to Teresa O’Neill OBE’s (Obnoxious Bitch Excelling) appalling behaviour.