The blame for the need to make severe reductions in services provided by Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) has been laid squarely at the overspending in recent years by both the Labour dominated borough council and also by the last Labour government, in a speech at the budget setting meeting on 23.2.2011 by the Liberal Democrat group leader on SBC. Cllr. Robin Parker C.C. said:
I very much regret the necessity for the proposed cuts, but given the situation the council is in, there is absolutely no alternative.
I have been warning for years that SBC was over spending and said (at the time) that action should have been taken earlier. Labour usually ignore what I say and this has resulted in a long list now of Labour cuts.
SBC were spending up to over £3 million more than they received in income, each year, until recent years. This always had to come out of balances (reserves) which are now depleted.
They finally got to grips with this only in the 2010/2011 budget. This means that SBC’s balances are now not available to fill the gap left by the cuts in government grants to SBC.
As regards the latter, the huge deficit of £157 billion per year left by the Labour government has inevitably meant that the coalition government has had to reduce its grants to local councils, in order to get to a situation where borrowing does not further increase.
Note that not one penny of the actual debt will be repaid after all this pain.
At the budget meeting, Labour denied the Labour government’s part in the responsibility for the problem, in complete contradiction to their own (politically neutral) council officers’ report on item 12 of the same agenda!
Robin Parker concluded:
Alone amongst the councillors, in 2009, I drew attention to the unnecessary severance payment of £170,000 to Peter Ollis, the former SBC Chief Executive, following ‘differences’ with the Labour party. Add this to the many other savings and efficiencies I have suggested since 1982, and some or all of these cuts could have been avoided.