Saturday, July 22, 2006

The truth behind our Council Tax rise?

In response to our post on Thursday, someone within the Town Hall has told us the Council managed to find almost £2.5 million in it's budget to cover bad debt, whilst simultaneously increasing the revenue from the Council Tax to around £650,000.

As it turns out, the bad debt wasn't anything like the figure allowed for meaning we could've quite easily had a freeze in Council Tax this year. Some might argue we could've had a Council Tax cut instead.

Either way, the bottom line is that the budget is in surplus whilst Council Tax has risen. Interestingly - as our Town Hall source pointed out - the increased revenue from the Council Tax rise neatly mirrors the required extra-spending in the Council's publicity budget.

It looks like the idea of taxpayers funding election campaign has already come to fruition in Greenwich.

6 Comments:

Blogger Indigo said...

Can we keep in sight the Liveability pilot money? On 12 July 2005, the Cabinet Committee resolved that the Liveability scheme (central Government funded) for environmental improvements to East Greenwich neighbourhood core area (remember the "Cleaner, Greener, Safer" posters?) be approved, at a total cost of £783,750.

In her wisdom the (Labour) Liveability Minister paid over the whole amount to the Council, in advance.

One of the conditions of the Liveability pilot was that 86 per cent of the work should have been completed by the end of the project (31 March 2006). This condition was nowhere near fulfilled but, having paid the Council all the Liveability money already, the Minister had nothing with which to make minds at Greenwich Council concentrate on their obligations and undertakings.

Of that total £783,750, the cost of the proposed works in the East Greenwich Pleasaunce were estimated to be £110,390. By the end of March 2006, the Pleasaunce was not cleaner, greener or safer. The only money spent on it had gone on a bit of cosmetic landscaping that may have cost £30,000 (the stone plinth came all the way from Cape Trafalgar). Since then, they have erected a hideous fence around about a quarter of the park, destroying the "little bit of countryside" character of the park. (How the Council came to justify doing that - by way of a highly "creative" poll - would take a whole blog posting, which I may get around to doing. Oh, yes, and how Chris Roberts helped to hijack the formation of the Friends group.)

Until the Council publishes an account of how every penny of that £783,750 has been spent, I will find it difficult to believe anything but that most of it has been used to offset the Council's debts. I am not aware that it is the Government's job to make cash donations to Labour Councils, under cover of "pilot" schemes to improve the environment, to reduce their debts.

One of the strangest, oddest things about the Pleasaunce bit of it is that when I e-mailed local resident Kate P I would get a reply e-mail from Chris Roberts. As if Kate P was closely associated with a Labour bigwig - say, being Prescott's niece, or sumfink.

12:51 pm  
Anonymous fergledog said...

And theres me thinking they wasted money

1:31 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Postscript: some of the Liveability money was to be spent making the area around Westcombe Park Station look nicer. I defy anyone to show me where any - funded from taxes - Liveability money has been spent here. I haven't followed all the ins-and-outs of this bit but beware the excuse that is always trotted out, something about Network Rail taking four months to reply to a letter. (Remember, it is over a year since the allocation of money was formally agreed by the Cabinet Committee, and it is four months since the expiry date of the Liveability pilot.)

10:03 pm  
Anonymous walkinthepark said...

I think that some of the criticisms of how the Liveability money has been spent are probably valid - I don't really know very much about the details.

However, I am very well informed about the Pleasaunce and the formation of the Friends group.

Chris Roberts did not hijack the formation of the group. A very vocal Greenwich resident - let's call her Rachel M. - did try to by drafting a constitution and then throwing a wobbly when mild changes were proposed.

She moved on to making numerous personal smears and attacks - always via email. She lacked the courage of her convictions to speak up at the public meetings. I attended most of the Friends-related ones. There was ample opportunity to speak up. She didn't.
The only issue discussed that generated any heat was the issue of a family-friendly zone (marked by the "hideous" fence that already seems as if it has been there forever). But the constitutional stuff was utterly uncontroversial -certainly no-one objected when Roberts proposed an amendment that I have seen on countless other contracts/constitutions.

Her emails have died off recently, coinciding with the formation of Greenwich Watch...coincidence?

If the moderators see fit to print this I might be convinced there is no connection!

By the way:

- I am not a member of the Labour Party.
- I am not an employee of Greenwich Council.
- I am not a Friend of the Pleasaunce (officially) though I know many friends and have seen lots of the barking-mad emails which they have had inflicted on them.

10:32 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

walkinthepark (9:32) is wholly wrong on a number of points of information but this is not the place to address them.

7:08 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

More on Liveability. The sum allocated from the Liveability grant for new street trees in East Greenwich (and that does not encompass the *whole* of East Greenwich, only a bit to the west of the motorway, I understand) was £26,000.

At the end of the Liveability pilot, March 2006, only 7 new trees had been planted, at a cost of about £200-£250 each.

10:33 am  

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