Last Thursday’s council meeting was rightly used to bring the Borough together after the awful attacks in Woolwich on Wednesday.
However, cancelling the speeches of the three party leaders also meant that the time usually devoted to scrutinising the council’s priorities for the next year and to review the last year was lost.
The speech prepared by Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan, before the attack took place, contained criticism of the council’s budgeting process, attacks on money wasted on unnecessary events and exposed the misleading statements being made by Labour over the £160 million they claim to be investing in the Borough in 2013-14.
Councillor Sullivan was to say:
“The councils’ recent finance report show that almost all council departments were reporting under spends.
“In accountancy terms an under spend is just as bad as an over spend because it means that there is something wrong with the budgeting process. It also means that our services are not being carried out as planned and our residents are losing out.
“So what is going wrong with our processes? And how are we building this into our planning? The council can’t continue to plead poverty simply because it is over-estimating what’s needed in the budget.”
On the £160 million
“As for investment, Labour cabinet members seem to be sending confused messages about the £160 million that they’re touting around to residents through Waltham Forest News and the various announcements and videos that they’re making.
“Many residents have read the big figures plastered over their copy of WFN and have been asking me if the council could spend some of this money on local projects.
“Unfortunately the explanation is, that most of this investment is not council money and all of it is already earmarked and being spent on other things.
“The confusion isn’t helped when Cabinet members give confusing written answers at full council meetings. Such as when Cllr Rusling declared ‘We are investing £160 million in the borough…’ in a written answer in March.”
“…under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has only spent £9 million net on players over the last ten years.
“That’s less per year than this council are spending on events!
Although these events are said to be free, they are not really, as the council tax payers are funding them.
“It seems like every day this council feels more and more like a booking agent or a live music promoter, with over a million pounds planned for events this year.”