Monday, 25 February 2019

Brent Council passes cuts budget with no opposition

Brent Council tonight passed the cuts listed in the post below with all Labour councillors in the Conference Hall when the vote was taken voting for the budget and the three opposition councillors abstaining. Cllrs Abdirazak Abdi and Jumbo Chan attended the Council meeting but were out of the room when the vote was taken.

It was noteworthy that for the first time the Tory Group (Trio) did not put forward an alternative  budget, surely the least that can be expected from a principled opposition. This enabled deputy leader Cllr Margaret McLennan, voice dripping with honeyed sarcasm, to thank them for supporting a Labour budget by not putting forward an alternative. The hapless trio made things even worse for themselves when Cllr Kansagra appeared to fall asleep during his own speech that for about the 5th year running blamed Gordon Brown for the world financial crisis.  Clearly nothing to do with the Tory government. Cllr Colwill followed by saying that there was 'loadamoney' hidden in many years' worth of unpaid debts to the council and accused Labout of not scrutinising council finances properly - he is vice chair of the scrutiny committee! Cllr Maurice lulled Labour into silence with a long soliloquy on diesel cars. A Labour councillor suggested that the leader of the opposition should lose his special allowance as he was not doing the job.

Oh for a proper opposition! Come back John Warren..! (Or John Duffy).

There was a refreshing willingness among most Labour councillors to call a spade a spade and not shrink from calling cuts, cuts, rather than 'savings', 'transformation', 'efficiencies' or even the dread new variant 'Hub' - although there were several hubs in the budget proposals.

Cllr Butt had not quite mastered this new language insisting in his final speech that the budget would do harm to Brent people but also that the vulnerable would be protected. The council is of course consulting on making those entitled to Council Tax Support pay more from 2020.

There were some good speeches from some of the newer councillors  as well as some obsequious one from some who should know better. Cllr Nerva sent a spasm through his colleagues when he made a veiled attack on the present national leadership of the Labour Party towards the end of his budget speech. He said that the events of the last week (presumably the  formation of the Independent Group) made it clear that in order to deserve to be elected Labour had to tackle anti-semitism and misogyny in its ranks. There was a scattering of applause.


Martin Francis said...

Comment received via email: "Having seem the budget, the greatest cuts come by way of the Environment, I fail to see how this will reflect on the borough in coming years, with only reactive maintenance in our parks, less rubbish collections, street sweeping etc, reduced hours at recycling facilities. A loss of 40 posts, means we will have less environmental health officers to check on growing number of food outlets, the rat population in Wembley is at epic proportions. Surely the Environment should be a top priority for embracing our Borough of Culture 2020 to show us in the best light on all our public realm spaces. "

Scott said...

I think the criticism of the tories for their general ineptitude lets the 60 Labour Councillors 'from a broad church' off the hook far too easily given they hold the machinery of power. Why didn't 'Labour's Momentum' in Brent put forward an alternative budget - as far as I understood, there are more of them there than there are tories. What about the 'TIG" wannabes who are unsure whether to stay or go - do these people not have any 'independent' thinking?

It's no wonder that the number of councillors in Brent are facing the axe given the 'strong leader and cabinet' model of local governance we have which renders the majority there to vote for their pay rise needing to do very little. These people are meant to represent all their residents, not just those who elected them and certainly not just the views of a small sect in Brent Labour.

Martin Francis said...

The Labour group are tightly whipped and the 'strong leader' model has shown in the past what happens to those who don't conform to the Leader's dictat. This leaves those who oppose the budget cuts the option of either not attending Full Council at all or not being in the hall when the recorded budget vote is taken. There is no strong Momentum presence in the Labour Group, possible 3 or so sympathisers. The approach taken during the 'debate' by Labour councillors who spoke was to regret the cuts, praise the council, and look forward to a Labour win in a General Election and thus the end of austerity. If that General Election is not until 2022 there will be little left of council services. The rather shame-faced'For'mumbled by many councillors when the recorded vote on the budget was taken, councillor by councillor, suggested that those who had not spoken were not happy.

Anonymous said...

Still, nice to know that Brent is now able to pursue the £1,300,000 that Davies's gang trousered at Copland on Butt's watch. I'm sure Mr B will spend it wisely.

Mike Hine