Orpington Labour Party

Labour Rose

Open letter on budget consultation

Bromley Council are asking it’s citizens their opinions on next year’s budget – Leader of the Labour Group Councillor Angela Wilkins poses some pertinent questions to Tory Council Leader Stephen Carr….

Dear Cllr Carr,

I note that Bromley Council has recently announced a consultation on the forthcoming budget process, the subject being £50m of savings the authority needs to find over the next four years.

It seems ironic, to put it mildly, that the need for such savings results from cuts in central government funding from your very own Conservative party leaders, particularly given that the Chancellor says his priority is to reduce the national debt and yet, month after month, he fails to meet his own targets to do so.

My primary concern however is for the residents of this Borough, and in particular at the paucity of what you are proposing as a ‘public consultation’.  I would therefore request please your response to the following points:

1.     Public meetings
Holding just one public meeting, during working hours and in the centre of Bromley simply isn’t adequate. If the Council is truly committed to consultation then meetings should be held in each and every town centre in the Borough, and some should be outside of office hours so that working people (the majority) might be able to attend.

2.      Online consultation
Examples of increases in council tax given in the online consultation are inadequate and respondents are not given enough information to be able to identify what (if any) increase they would be prepared to pay.

There is no mention of what services could be cut /retained at various levels of increase so any response is effectively ‘in the dark’ about the relative impact of different % increases to council tax.

Mentioning a 5% increase as an option is spurious as any increase above 2% would, by law,  require the council to first hold and win a referendum (at considerable cost to the authority and something the Tories have so far refused to consider).

There is no mention at all of the possible use of reserves to fund council expenditure and protect services. The Council’s assets and reserves are approaching £400m – residents need to be aware of the fact that the authority is not as poor as Conservative councillors are suggesting.

There is no opportunity for respondents to identify which services they feel are a priority or if there are any they feel should not be cut. This was something which last year’s survey attempted to do and so I wonder why you have decided not to repeat these questions.

With best regards,

Angela

Angela Wilkins
Labour Councillor for Crystal
Palace and Leader of the Labour Group

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