Wednesday 6 January 2016

Pavey says time has come to raise Brent Council Tax - potentially by 4%

Responding to the Scrutiny Budget Panel's report this evening, Cllr Michael Pavey, deputy leader and lead for finance, said because of the substantial amount that could be raised and its potential impact on services, that he now supported a rise in Council Tax.

The 1% freeze grant has been abolished which the Council would have lost previously if it raised the Council Tax. The 2% ring-fenced adult social care rise along with 2% to maintain services would raise 4 times the freeze granr.
He said his personal view was that despite Council Tax being unfair and out-dated he was confident that Brent Council could ask residents to pay more because they could honestly tell them it would save services.

Any proposal to raise Council Tax would have to be agreed by Cabinet before being put to Full Council in February.

Cllr Pavey said he was looking forward to hearing the views of the public at the Brent Connects meetings which are coming up in the next few weeks.

While Pavey was speaking at the Committee Cllr Butt rushed from the public gallery to sit beside him. It was unclear whether this was to express solidarity, give guidance or some other reason.

During the discussion Michael Pavey apologised for unintentionally not including the Scrutiny Committee in the published budget timeline and agreed that there should be  earlier involvement. He rejected claims that the budget lacked coherence and vision.

He said that there had been a failure of entrepenuership by the council which included marketing of the Civic Centre. the aim was to find ways that services could produce income or become self-financing.  The Cabinet report shoudl have had more detail of this 'civic enterprise agenda'. Peter Gadson, Operational Director, said that if services currently subject to fees were made more efficient, a larger proportion of the fee would be reatined by the council. It was not necessarily a matter of putting up fees becase a lower fee could increase take up and therefore income.

Cllr Duffy (not a member of the Committee) spoke about the need foo more thorough work to get maximun value for money from procurement and to use the reduced number of staff more efficiently.

Clr Nerva said that every illegally parked car was worth £80 to the council that could be used for community benefit. Improved enforcemment could be self-financing.

Cllr Pavey undertook to look at the question of council reserves, how much was ring-fenced and what was accessible.


Anonymous said...

Well, welcome back Mr Pavey. It took a while but you got there in the end. Have a word with old Butt-features. Given a few years he and you might remember why you hooked yourselves on to Labour in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I was not at the Scrutiny Committee meeting, but I would guess that the reason Cllr. Butt rushed from the public gallery to Cllr. Pavey's side was because his Deputy had dared to say that 'his PERSONAL view was that despite Council Tax being unfair and out-dated he was confident that Brent Council could ask residents to pay more because they could honestly tell them it would save services.'

I wonder whether this was also Cllr. Pavey's personal view last year, but that he was prevented from saying so then by the Council Leader, who was determined to "freeze" Council Tax (a few months before a General Election) for party political reasons, rather than to save services for local people, such as the Stonebridge Adventure Playground?

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

If your conjecture is correct, Philip, then voters are left with a dilemma:
has Mr Pavey's view on this matter shown him to be a more suitable Leader than Mr Butt
or has Mr Pavey's hiding of this view last year shown him to be lacking in the courage required in a Leader (though not,of course, always to be found)?
Mike Hine

Alison Hopkins said...

More recycling! Budget and Finance Scrutiny recommended over THREE YEARS ago that Brent get cleverer on marketing the Civic Centre. Charging ten times as much as local hotels for a wedding venue doesn't exactly lead to a good takeup, either. What on earth is the point of scrutiny if they don't LISTEN?

I suspect the reason Scrutiny wasn't on the budget timetable is that the superb officer who used to provide finance support got made redundant.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget that the majority of the Labour Party lined up with Osborne at the beginning of last year for these cuts. Its good that Pavey & Duffy have been identifying some aspects where Labour have failed to run the council adequately, lets hope they also seek to address them. However, their continued extravagance and ineptitude with publicly owned resources means that even if they did raise the tax by an extra 4%, there is little or no faith that these people won't squander it like they have wasted our tax money previously.

Scott Bartle.