Speech on Labour's Budget at tonight's Council Tax meeting
23/02/2015 22:08:00......Posted by Mario Creatura
Tonight's Council meeting was designed to discuss and vote on the first budget of Labour's administration. A sham of a budget, you can listen to all the speeches (for and against) online here. You can watch my contribution here or read a transcript below.
"Tonight’s meeting is about how we spend the Council Tax of our residents. And as local politicians, we’re constantly and rightly under scrutiny for the choices we make when it comes to spending the money we take from our local people.
The projected surplus in the general budget is £6m. What are Labour choosing to spend that money on?
Well they started by spending a few thousand removing some stones from Central Parade in New Addington. They’re spending at least £200,000 on a Fairness Commission. And they’re spending over £150,000 on an ‘Ambitous’ festival. I’m sure all essential spending commitments. The expression ‘Bread and circuses’ springs to mind, Madam Mayor.
All the while the poorest in our borough are struggling to make ends meet. But is the Labour administration doing anything to alleviate their financial struggles? No. They’re adding to them!
Last year we gave a rent holiday to our Council tenants, Cllr Butler calls this a gimmick and instead has chosen to increase their rents by 2.2%! As if that were bad enough, Labour are also choosing to increase rents for garages and parking spaces. Bulk refuse collection charges will increase, likely leading to increased fly-tipping. This is made worse by grounds keeping and caretaking costs also going up. And that’s all before their pernicious Tenant Tax comes into effect. The houses of our most vulnerable are being targeted by this Labour administration - they should hang their heads in shame.
We have no detail in this budget about Labour’s ongoing costs. They’ve flip-flopped under public pressure to keep Purley Pool open, but there’s no guarantee of funding next year. They’ve committed £500,000 to Ashburton Library but with no detail about the long-term cost implications of running that facility. Time after time Labour are demonstrating breath-taking financial incompetence with the money of our residents.
Nationally Labour have pledged to take away the New Homes Bonus. That’s £12m minimum gone each year from Croydon’s bottom line. If this goes ahead, Cllr Godfrey won’t be able to put on his glitzy festivals unless Cllr Butler chooses to continue putting up Council rents. How will Cllr Newman fund his political propaganda posters? He’ll probably get Cllr Collins to put up the cost of waste collection again and force our taxpayers to pay again for their replacement recycling bins. I despair.
This is a Council that says it's for the benefit of the people of Croydon - it's really not.
The sad truth is Madam Mayor, Labour are incompetent nationally and incompetent locally. This is a sham of a budget. This is not fair to our residents. This is not transparent and not open. and I therefore oppose it."