Friday 16 December 2016

Irresponsible Southend Tories signal a return to profligacy

Last night's Full Council was characterised by several underwhelming performances by portfolio holders. This included an unconvincing effort at defending the extravagance that is "Celebrating 125 years of the Borough of Southend-on-Sea & the Centenary of Priory Park being gifted to the Town".

The Conservative Deputy Leader certainly could not persuade me that spending £580,000 on an arbitrary anniversary when austerity has seen enormous cuts over the last six years, with the promise of more, is a good idea.

Whilst I am happy to celebrate, I think we should be concerned that profligacy has once again returned to Southend-on-Sea's Borough Council. The next round of Council meetings will see the Budget, and any large-scale cuts will stand in stark contrast to this proposed expenditure. 

We have to find savings in so many areas, why cannot we find savings here too?

Money is being found from the Business Transformation Reserve. And here is a list of what it is being spent on :-

Poppies exhibition
Flower festival in Priory Park
Planting 125 trees
Priory Park Gates
Concert / musical event during the Village Green weekend
Project Manager
Grants to local organisations
Silk River Project
Royal visit
Planting of floral displays with the logo
Series of sporting events
Series of Bandstand concerts
Picnics in the parks across the borough
Civic Service

The portfolio holder, Wakering resident Cllr Ann Holland (Conservative, Southchurch ward), believes the expenditure will transform business - I wonder how? I see nothing in this list that even gets close to a sensible definition of business transformation.

This item followed my questioning about the selling off two council properties (homes that could have housed families) which raised £525,000. Aside from the fact that some would consider this a slap in the face to those who sit on the Council's housing list, selling off Council property to fund these extravagant celebrations is unwarranted.

The current Conservative administration has wasted little time in returning to their spend now, pay later ways. Clearly it is austerity for some, extravagance for others.

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