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Bonkers Blog March 2019

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22 March (Part 1) - People are at breaking point and Bexley Council lies again

TweedledumIt has become almost acceptable for the Tweedle Brothers to lie on Twitter, it’s what they do, no one takes much notice and they make fools of themselves before those of us who are better informed. Overall it seems better that they should continue, life might be duller without the pair of jesters.

However everyone should object when the Council itself thinks that lying is acceptable.

I received my green bin subscription notice yesterday. It says that Bexley’s garden waste service is the cheapest in London. It is hard to imagine a bigger lie. I’ve not checked all 32 boroughs but I know my relatives in Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest all pay nothing at all. I’ve checked their Council’s websites in case their information is out of date, but it isn’t.

Those Councils provide the service for free because it makes money. Bexley Council admitted that the brown bin service would save £440,000 a year compared to what preceded it but decided to hide that inconvenient fact, pretend it was a costly operation, and charge you for it.

Bexley Council has reverted to type, they are lying to you.
Garden waste
Today another Council letter dropped on to my doorstep, my Council Tax is going up by £8 a month.

I’m lucky, it’s a very long away above the inflation rate which governs my income but it is not in practice going to make a scrap of difference to me. A small bonus is that it may provide ammunition for when Bexley Tories next claim to be a low tax borough, it simply isn’t.

Not everyone can shrug off an £8 increase. people who send emails like this for example - suitably anonymised.

I am a simple person struggling to get to the end of each month, however I have been hit with another rise in bills, namely Council Tax. Last year I paid £1,235 , this year it is £1,305.

Bexley mess Bexley mess Bexley messI might understand it if everything was kept in tip top condition where I live (SE28) but the road looks like a dump, rubbish everywhere, shopping carts abandoned and no one from the Council with a broom. Should I hassle them with photos or just leave it? I don’t want to become the Council’s enemy Number One like you are.

I can’t object to yet another rise in Council Tax pay rise which I find criminal but I am beginning to lose control. Should I give up? Default on the mortgage and go on benefits… like too many in Bexley.

Do you have any ideas? Please help!

P.S. I looked at Council Tax reduction but unless I am unemployed none of it applies to an honest hard working person.

There’s nothing I can do obviously except perhaps to point out that Bexley’s Council Tax reduction scheme has been whittled away over the years so it may not provide the help that is needed. The only option is to vote for someone else but without a change in Central Government policy that is unlikely to change anything either.

Daniel Francis, Bexley’s Labour Leader seems to understand the problem. He knows that increasing Council Tax by 20% in five years is unsustainable and wrote about it in the South London Press. He was not against the entirety of Bexley’s recent budget but was in favour of spending a bit more on the homeless. Money that has been sitting around doing nothing. A gift from property developers. Unfortunately it won’t stop those who lie for a living saying that Labour voted against worthwhile investment, they already have.

The South London Press doesn’t have a wide circulation in Bexley so let’s help Daniel out. (The full article is longer. Click link.)

The increase for the council tax payer in Bexley’s share of the council tax has been 20·4 per cent since 2014 which includes this year’s 4·99 per cent increase.

Even then council tax equates to just under 62 per cent of what the council spends, which is why residents see charges for services have to also rise sharply.

As a result of the pressures on our budgets, the council is projected to overspend its budget in 2018/19 by £2·9 million, spend 20 per cent of its reserves to balance budgets in the space of one year and find savings of more than £18 million (over 10 per cent of our budget) to balance the books next year.

We are also in the unprecedented territory of setting a deficit education budget of £3·2 million because the Government has refused to fully fund the cost of supporting children with disabilities.

Labour councillors identified that the council has allowed almost £1·5 million given to us by developers for new social homes to sit in the bank while more than 1,400 families and 2,000 children are being placed in temporary accommodation by the council.

While not a single social home was built in Bexley in 2017/18, the amount Bexley spends on temporary accommodation has risen from £1·072 million in 2014/15 to £7·507 million in 2019/20, the equivalent of a 6·1 per cent council tax increase.

So while the Prime Minister may tell you that austerity is over, the reality is that the Government’s policy of 60 per cent cuts to our budgets over the last nine years is leaving finances but more importantly people at breaking point.


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