The Cabinet meeting last night began with a COVID update highlighting the seriousness of the current situation, trying to set that as the backdrop for the Council’s current financial situation.
Whilst our thanks certainly go to our staff working throughout the pandemic and our thoughts go to those who have been directly affected, it must be remembered that Croydon’s financial woes pre-date COVID.
They are the result of years of financial mismanagement by this Labour Council. Something which has been demonstrated by the ‘Report in the Public Interest’ issued by the Council’s independent auditors.
The majority of this Labour Cabinet have been in place since 2014, they racked up the £1.5bn debt, they loaned £200mn to Brick x Brick and they reduced the reserves to £7mn.
All before COVID.
COVID is certainly affecting many LA’s across the country but only Labour Croydon has issued a S114 notice, indeed they have issued two of them, back to back, unprecedented in local government.
This Labour Council put Croydon into this financial mess. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Conservative Government is taking the time to ensure that the rescue package is the right one.
Labour Croydon have requested to borrow another £150mn to extract themselves from their financial mess, but it will be Croydon’s residents and taxpayers that will pay the price for the next 30-40 years.
Frankly there seems to be little progress from this Labour Council. They lack pace, they lack commitment, they lack the ability to respond to the seriousness of the situation.
They have already missed important deadlines in their Action Plan to deal with the outcome of the ‘Report in the Public Interest’
How are we, and indeed Government, to have any faith in the process and pace of change when things are slipping so early in the Action Plan?
They agreed a Capital Programme that will see Council borrowing increase, and yet there were huge gaps in the numbers within the report.
But, its OK as they are making ‘assumptions’ on the ‘potential’ figures!
The proposed closure of ‘Virgo Fidelis’ school will potentially place an additional burden of £2.5mn on the Council’s finances. Yet this Council has allowed this situation to develop unchecked and no Cabinet Member questioned the further impact on the bankrupt Council.
The Cabinet meeting stumbled from item to item with Cabinet Members often not seeming to know what they were doing next.
This is a Labour Council that is floundering.
They still haven’t expelled Cllrs. Newman, Hall and Butler from their party, despite the damage they have wreaked on our borough and the bankruptcy they have created.
This Conservative Group has already taken a 20% cut in special responsibility allowances.
Yet the Labour Group are waiting for the budget process before they act. They could be taking pay cuts now that could save jobs further down the line.
They continue to avoid questions, avoid challenge, avoid scrutiny.
They continue to fail, failing to deliver, failing our residents, failing our borough.
The Local Elections next year cannot come soon enough.