Saturday, November 03, 2007

No Deals in Smoke-Filled Rooms

The Libdems don't do deals in smoke-filled rooms. Mainly on the basis that the smoking ban ensures they have to think again. Last Monday, Sutton LibDems held a secretive group meeting to update their backbench councillors about the deep cuts to services that they
have planned. When we asked for a similar briefing, we were told that there was no such meeting. The master copy of the list of room bookings showed an entry to reserve the largest meeting room for a LibDem update with an additional instruction not to put this up on the screen by the front door of the Civic Offices with details of the other meetings of the day.
It is true that the Local Government Settlement given by the government, which makes up the largest portion of the Council's income is poor. The Chancellor announced a 1% real terms increase in an already low settlement and yet expected Council Tax increases to be minimal. With the spending restrictions that he places on the grants given, he is living on another planet if he truly believes that is feasible. This having been said, Sutton Council's budget has scope for restructuring to cut waste and inefficient spending before even looking at changes to primary services. Years of self-congratulation about how well the LibDems have managed the accounts in better times precludes them from admitting that they haven't got things right in those comparative years of plenty.
If there are to be significant cuts, we should all be told as soon as possible. We can't go on with the usual dance each year, when the LibDems drip feed a few dramatic figures at this of year only to "save the day" in the Spring. Last year we suffered the second highest Council Tax in London. The previous year, only a last minute climbdown by the ruling group avoided capping. What'll happen this year? Who knows? One thing for sure, it won't be pretty.

1 comment:

scotty said...

Secretive meeting? I have visions of hidden doors in old libraries, spluttering torches, distant rumbles of thunder, and wingback chairs awash with villainous laughter.

Let's set the scene...

"Mawahaha let's whack up the council tax again!!!" said Leader Brennan adjusting his long black cloak, calling the meeting to order.

"Capital idea, sir" says Baron Tope, "that'll show them - that'll show them all!"

"I know," perked up the money man Drage sipping a fine brandy surrounded by money bags, beside him a cobwebbed dusty abacus. "Let's decrease the services at the same time. Really show 'em who's boss."

"Eeeexcellent." They all chime.

"I, for one, think our leisure facilities are far too cheap. Cripes! Ordinary families can actually afford the rates!" said Baron Tope demonstrating his outrage by thumping the table, ruffling his ermine slightly.

"Hike the price up straight away, Baron, and you shall have the highest honour we can bestow," soothed Leader Brennan, his fingers steeped in contemplation.

"A PAY INCREASE?!" Acolytes Dombey and Hall shrieked simultaneously.

"No, a totem pole in his ward," concluded the Leader.