Labour Council's Christmas Presents

In a mirror image of the national government, Labour’s Greenwich Council is spending now and planning to cut later (after the Council elections).

  As Conservatives revealed last month, Labour have plans for £27m of cuts after the Council elections in May, however, at a Cabinet Committee meeting on 30th December, Labour Councillors spent an extra £7.7m – including some reallocation of funds within the voluntary sector. The spending commitments, many of which were made with little or no notice included:-  
  • £5.9m to voluntary sector organisations (to be cut after May elections according to Labour’s plans)
  • £172,000 to be spent setting up and subsidising the Labour Council’s own company to supply services like catering or cleaning to itself and other Councils. Many of these are already supplied by the Council in-house, so this really is money which would not otherwise have been spent.
  • A £1.5m grant to Ravensbourne College to relocate to the Greenwich Peninsula.
  • £180,000 to the Firepower museum in Woolwich to support it over the next three years.
  Of these five items, three were not in the Council’s forward plan, meaning no notice was given of their inclusion on the agenda.    Councillor Spencer Drury, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives said “While some of these spending commitments are necessary and we support them, others require much further scrutiny.   I feel the £172,000 to set up a company outside the Council may be just another drain on taxpayers’ wallets and I fail to see why we do not simply contract out these services rather than subsidising a Greenwich owned company.”    “Similarly the decision to remove all funding for the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality legal support services and the Women’s Trust (Domestic Violence Support Service) need much more consideration than a last minute meeting over the Christmas period. I tried to speak to the officers concerned about these issues, but most are on holiday until the New Year, so the only information available was that in the reports.”   “On the bright side, the last minute decision to offer further support to the Royal Artillery Museum Firepower is very welcome, although the details are unsurprisingly not clear for a report that was only published the day before the meeting.”   I am very concerned about how spending almost £8m at the end of the year, with no planning and a limited ability to question officers appears slapdash and disorganised. Surely more time and thought should be put into decisions which spend such large amount of taxpayers money.”