Tonight the Conservative administration will present its 2012/13 budget for approval at a meeting of Full Council. The budget is historic for many reasons, not least for the fact that once again the administration is proposing to cut council tax by -3.75%. This, combined with the announcement by the Mayor of London that he is cutting the GLA precept, will bring some relief to our hard pressed residents and local taxpayers. Relief that, in these times of austerity and rising prices, this Conservative council is doing all it can to reduce the tax burden locally, whilst at the same time protecting frontline services and driving up standards.
However, tonight’s meeting looks set to be historic for another reason. Namely that this looks likely to be the 6th budget meeting in a row where the opposition will fail to table an alternative budget to the one proposed by the administration. Now, I could be wrong, I could be surprised, but I doubt it. You see the omens are not looking promising. The fact that they didn’t bother to attend the Cabinet meeting where the budget was discussed, or failed to table amendments during the scrutiny committee stage, doesn’t bode well.
So what would Labour do were, heaven forbid, they to be running the Town Hall. Well having analysed what they have said, at last year’s budget council meeting and subsequently, the additional spending commitments made, and cuts they would reverse, we would be facing the prospect of a £50m blackhole in the Council’s budget. A figure that could bankrupt H&F.
A pretty strong statement you might say, so let’s look at the facts.
They want to reverse the 2011/12 savings - £26.7 million
They want to cancel Tri-Borough - £3.1million
They won’t support the proposed 2012/13 savings
They would stop paying down the debt - £1.8 million in interest per year
They would reverse fee increases and scrap new charges (or so they
say) - £8 million
They would spend millions more on policing - £13 million
Total cost £ 52.6 million
But what about Labour’s savings you may say, for they say they have some. Well yes, they do all £2.85 million of them. But that still leaves nearly £50 million to find.
So, what is the Labour solution to their funding gap? I’m sure you can guess. It’s the tried and failed formula of increasing debt. They’ve admitted it, they’re addicted to it.
“Hammersmith’s debt is more affordable than ever due to low interest rates.” Cllr Andrew Jones (Labour) Budget Council 23rd February 2011
Labour, you just can’t trust them when it comes to spending (wasting) your money.