Conservative propose support for local shops as budget alternative

At the meeting of the Full Council last Wednesday, Conservative Councillors supported the freezing of the Council Tax for Greenwich Borough residents by the Council and Mayor of London.  However, in a direct challenge to Labour’s short term, public sector strategy, Conservative Councillors proposed greater support for firms across the borough and a strategy not based entirely upon supporting the centre of Woolwich.


Conservatives suggested two further savings for the Council, which were rejected by Labour Councillors.  These were:-


·        Cutting the quarter of a million pounds spent each year supporting the borough’s trade unions to zero.

·        Removing Councillors’ right to receive a pension from the Council which costs taxpayers £100,000 each year.


In addition, Conservatives proposed greater support for Childrens’ Centres across the Borough using a substantial Public Health grant awarded by the government and a specific focus on supporting shops and businesses in areas outside Woolwich.  To allow this focus to develop, Conservatives proposed ‘Area Councils’ covering four separate areas of the Borough based around Eltham, Thamesmead, Charlton and Greenwich/Blackheath.  Each of these areas would have specific funds allocated to them and local Councillors would be given much more responsibility in running services & supporting business.  Lastly Conservatives proposed specific support for the Samuel Montagu Youth Centre and the Blackheath Conservatoire aimed at helping the through their present financial difficulties.


Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “I hope that our proposals for each area to have its own focus on developing business and supporting local residents would help improve the quality of life in our borough.  Labour’s proposals were not dreadful and we supported many of them, however, the focus on short-term public sector jobs is mistaken.  The Council should be encouraging business to develop across the borough (not just in Woolwich) which would allow long-term jobs to be developed improving prospects for employment and training for all residents.”


“Our proposals would also help local democracy, where power is isolated in the hands of a few individuals who seem to have a very Woolwich based view.  For instance, not a single Councillor from a ward south of Shooters Hill Road has had any power to make spending or taxation decision for the last 8 years.  This can’t be right – our proposals would allow Eltham, New Eltham and Mottingham a much greater say over their own affairs in addition to freeing areas like Blackheath, Greenwich, Kidbrooke and Charlton from playing second fiddle to Woolwich in all decisions made concerning the north of the borough.”


Conservative Councillor for Eltham South Adam Thomas also spoke at the meeting where he made the point that Greenwich does not do enough to encourage business growth.  Adam said “Greenwich Council must not rest on the laurels of Tesco - by my reckoning there are only 5 London boroughs with a lower yield.  We appear to have a Business Rate yield on a par with the yield of Wycombe District Council and Northampton, which simply is not good enough.”