Bexley’s Conservative administration has published its draft budget proposals for 2018/19.
It is a budget that is, again, in surplus and which, again, invests in local services for local people.
Speaking about the proposals, Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of Bexley’s Conservative Council, said:
“We have worked hard to ensure taxpayers get excellent value for money and I am pleased that our services are well regarded by residents and that many are rated as among the best in London or the country. We set out our strategy in 2014 to address the massive financial challenge facing every single Council in the UK.
We said if we implemented our strategy quickly and efficiently we would keep the budget balanced and be able to invest in our services. That is what we have done.”
The Cabinet noted that the move to the new Civic Offices in 2014 has reduced running costs by £2m and that rather than cutting services as other Councils rushed to do, this Conservative administration had found ways of generating new income or making services more efficient.
The budget notes that children’s services are being transformed with positive and innovative ideas helping those in need. It was also reported that by recruiting more full-time staff the workforce in children’s services team now only has 11% who are temporary, compared to 70% in 2013.
Cllr Sawyer noted that the change to using modern LED street lights was on course to generate £300,000 in reduced running costs, and that car park charges across Bexley will not be increasing at all in 2018/19 – a major boost for Bexley’s town centres.
It was also announced that a pilot scheme of using dog patrols to provide reassurance and security in parks and open spaces was being made a permanent service, operating seven nights a week. The opening of the Post Office in Crayford’s library had led to an 87% year on year increase in the library’s footfall too.
New figures were released showing that 10,000 visitors had been to see an exhibition at Hall Place in three weeks – an exhibition only possible to stage after Conservative Councillors approved funding for it, funding which Labour Councillors “slammed.”
The importance of the Borough’s Growth Strategy to the Council’s long term budget plans was stressed by Cllr Linda Bailey.
Not a single Labour Councillor made any comment on the budget proposals. Indeed the Cabinet was reminded that in 2014, Labour supporter had stated that if we implemented our strategy there would be a financial black hole in the Council budget by 2018 of £50million!!
After the meeting a spokesperson for Bexley’s Conservative Councillors commented:
“Labour claimed our plans would create a £50m black hole in the budget – but as we pledged would happen in 2014, the budget is not just balanced but in surplus. Will they accept they were wrong and welcome all the new investment taking place across the Council’s services?”
The Budget plans will now be subject to consultation over the next four weeks before the Cabinet make their final recommendations at the end of February.