The group of Local Independents had called on the senior leadership of RBWM to fully disclose the findings of the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA), who review and offer advice on both the finance and governance arrangements of local government organisations.
Cllr Lynne Jones, as Leader of the Opposition, has over previous years consistently raised concerns regarding governance processes, the lack of transparency to Opposition members particularly of the council’s financial details and the complete disregard for the checks and balances and policy debate that should be delivered by cross- party Overview and Scrutiny.
Every year she responded to the budget paper highlighting the areas of concern that she felt were not being addressed. This is the duty of a good and supportive ‘opposition’. Her concerns were dismissed with political sound bites and insults. In retrospect her speeches now read as if she had a crystal ball. But you don’t need a crystal ball, expertise and a willingness to do the work was all that was required to foresee the situation that RBWM now finds itself.
The use of Local Government finances to forward National political ideology cannot be allowed to continue, the group of Local Independents have no such ties to National politics and Independent Councillors have always made decisions in the best interest of the council and the residents without having to be subservient to National Party Policy and dogma when it is not a good fit for RBWM and the residents.
The Conservative administration has consistently put up barriers and resisted disclosing the financial situation to both members and residents.
With debt mounting to over £180m, without any detail of how it is going to being repaid, services being asked to make even more funding cuts, whilst ‘politically driven’ projects receive funding seemingly without any business case – how can this administration possibly continue? It is beyond belief that our department heads are being asked again to find even more ‘savings’, when they have already gone way beyond what is prudent to maintain quality services, and they tell us there are no further ‘savings’ to find.
What is next?…. reduced bin collections, children’s centres closing, library services reducing, reduction in road maintenance?
With the estimated reserves collapsing to just above the recommended minimum, and the administration’s income forecast becoming less tangible by the day, they must recognise that the ‘member led council’ and ‘strong leader model’ ideology of the Conservative Party and Coalition Government’s Localism Act, has failed the residents of this Borough.
Many of those responsible either did not re-stand, or did not succeed, in the May elections and we have already seen one most senior resignation just 19 weeks later.
Councillors should take a long hard look at themselves and the question should be “Am I here to serve the residents or am I here as part of a personal career path or to serve a National Party doctrine?” – RBWM residents deserve the former.
The group of Local Independents urge all members to collaborate and work with integrity and mutual respect, putting aside political tribalism in the best interests of RBWM, as this is not the time for National Party Politics to hinder the huge task we have in front of us.
Cllr Lynne Jones & Neil Knowles (OWRA)
Cllrs Wisdom DaCosta, Carole DaCosta & Jon Davey (WWRA)
Cllrs Geoff Hill, Helen Taylor & Helen Price (tBf)