The Lib Dems have falsely accused the Brent Labour Party of wanting to get rid of libraries for a long time. The issue arose at the Willesden Area Forum, which I chair, when a resident showed a paper which suggests that the Council is going to close libraries.
Brent Council leader Ann John said that it was presented as an option to the then Labour administration who rejected the idea claiming that officers do often present reports that are rejected by decision makers and when this was presented to the Labour executive, Labour answered with an emphatic no. Cllr Lesley Jones has more on this here – LINK.
Stinks of typical local Lib Dem tactics to ‘pick an unpopular cut and champion it’ as reported here (LINK) as ‘we are not running the Council, it’s not our problem’.
Hampstead and Kilburn MP. Glenda Jackson spoke passionately in Parliament about the cuts that the Coalition Government are inflicting on Brent Council.
Many other MPs also spoke out for local Councils in their constituency, specifically on the issue of libraries.
Read the full debate here LINK.
I’d like to recommend Lisa Nandy MP’s article which highlights that local authorities around the country – and may I add regardless of political affiliation – are being placed in great difficulty to meet the Government’s frontloaded cuts targets without affecting frontline services.
The Coalition Government’s cuts are just too deep and forcing the removal of vital frontline services such as libraries. In fact in Brent 6 are due to close, one of which, I am a regular user of, located within my Ward. It is unfortunate to have such a vital local service removed because of national decisions having local consequences.
Further to my post of Central Government Grant reductions here, I mentioned that I would provide greater detail to reduction in Central Government Grants allocated to Brent Council. In particular, this blogpost will focus on reductions to the Performance Reward Grant.
I cannot stress the importance of Central Government Grants to Local Authorities. Brent Council receive around 80% of our funds from Central Government. 20% is raised through Council Tax.
In simplified terms, the Performance Reward Grant is awarded to Local Authorities to provide services. Reductions from the Coalition Government to our Performance Reward Grant impacted on multiple services. Below are just some of those impacted:
- £71,000 cut to Domestic Violence Prevention Programme. This money contributes to an advocacy advice service.
- £60,000 Volunteering Programme cut which was previously funded through the Performance Reward Grant.
- £287,000 cut in Sports Development for disabled children and diversionary activities for children at risk of getting involved in crime schemes as well as encouraging adults to be more physically active.
- £90,000 cut the Performance Reward Grant which was used for the Sustainability Green Zones scheme. Project support funding from National Government was halted resulting in the loss of two members of staff.
- £155,000 cut to a range of work to tackle Climate Change. Brent may now only be able to pursue meeting statutory minimums in this area.
- £100,000 cut to Library funds which was to be spent on improving library book stocks.
- £83,000 cut to Private Housing Services which was set to be used to meet the demand needed for the Disabled Facilities Grant. This Growth would have provided two new surveyors for Brent.
- £90,000 income maximisation cut which focused on reablement and hospital discharge projects. This was to support 500 people between the summer and March 2011.
Stay tuned for the hidden grant cuts to Children and Families Grants, the sector for which Brent Central MP Sarah Teather has Ministerial responsibility for throughout the whole country. The impact on cuts to these services to Brent is despicable. Especially seeing as we have a Government Minister imposing these cuts on our own children.
Interesting piece in the Financial Times:
” Radical cost-cutting proposals by Conservative-controlled councils such as Barnet, Essex, and Hammersmith and Fulham are refuelling the Thatcherite debate about the role of the state and could provide a national blueprint for an incoming Conservative Government.
Leading Tory councils are rethinking the provision of local public services, including parks, libraries, and street cleaning, as they confront a severe squeeze on public spending of up to 20 per cent in the years ahead. ”
Source: Financial Times
Much is said over the assumption that there is not much difference between the mainstream political parties. However, historically, the Conservatives have shown stronger support for the market knows best approach, and it seems that this is still a strong ethos held my many in the Party.
However, this approach leads to poor provision of public services as it leads to society being run on the principle that for services to be provided, a profit must be made.
Recent financial strains may mean that public spending cuts may be an inevitable for all administrations, irrespective of which Party is in charge. However, cuts just for the sake of it is the wrong route to take. Instead what we need is for our Local Authorities, and even Government to provide value for money and radical cuts in key services such as parks, libraries and street cleaning is the wrong approach.