Author Topic: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy  (Read 10512 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« on: October 11, 2010, 09:44:52 AM »
2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame or Infamy


Special Meeting of the Council: Thursday, 7th October, 2010 7.00 p.m


"To consider recommendations of the Cabinet arising from a report on the Strategic Approach to the Budget for Swindon Borough Council considered by the Cabinet held on 22nd September 2010"


A.K.A:  The Emergency Budget which TS members predicted would be inevitable after they'd looked at Cllr Edwards' offering in February and correctly pronounced it 'unfit for purpose'.

Early this year I produced a fairly lengthy blog post in which I said that I thought Rod Bluh's obsession with being re-elected in 2010 was going to damage the town, and I think I was right.

A short excerpt from that blog post:

Quote from: Me

Quote from: Roderick Bluh
“No one should underestimate the size of this problem. No one should go around thinking any public service can carry on with business as usual”


…Says the man who has systematically and almost single-handedly finagled his way around the rules to absolutely ‘carry on as usual’ in the pursuit of his own expensive-to-the-taxpayer  pet projects.  An unwholesome and politically embarrassing miasma surrounds Bluh, much amplified by his incompetent micro-managing of his Tabernacle-Debacle, his  Canal-Dreams,  ‘Radio Rod’s Big-Spend Weekend’ and now his  latest wheeze at our expense, The WiFiasco.

Quote from: Roderick Bluh
“Everyone needs to recognise that the bulk of the council’s work is in delivering care services to the most needy, whether they are elderly and young and not in providing the buildings, roads and other visible activities that would have been common in the 19th century.”


It’s a shame  that Bluh never practices what he preaches.  Nice enough words to have printed in the Pravdatiser but quietly blaming the elderly and the disabled for the problems their budget is undergoing is becoming more commonplace.  Funnily enough a West Swindon Tory Councillor was brave, (or stupid),  enough to mention this on his election leaflet earlier this year:  Shaw and Nine Elms Councillor Keith Williams said:

Quote from: Roderick Bluh
“A standstill budget was the target but rocketing costs for disabled children and adults has forced a modest rise of 1.9%”




 
The current financial difficulties faced by the Borough of Swindon, (and by inevitable association, us),  may not be solely the fault of Cllr Bluh and his chums, but I think it's a fair bet that they have made the problems significantly worse because they couldn't, wouldn't or just didn't want to look any further forwards than the May 2010 elections.

Readers may not agree with this opinion, but I think Swindons Conservative Councillors Gerrymandered the 2010 local election with a 'low' annual increase in council tax, and that they did so in the full knowledge that their February 2010 budget was unrealistic and almost certain to fail.  In December 2009 Cllr Bluh told his conservative councillors:

Quote from: Roderick Bluh
  “By the time the Budget is put to bed we will have delivered the best Budget to-date with the lowest council tax to-date with the least frontline impact to-date.  I have always said that I wanted this to be so pre-Elections, particularly the General.

We have both the local and general elections only a number of weeks away now and it is essential that we all work a one team to ensure the best possible outcome. 

Our focus should be electoral success to deliver 2 Conservative MPs for Swindon, a Conservative Government and maintain a strong Conservative council.”



An electorally ‘popular’ budget was Bluh's target.  Everything that could be done, was done, to keep the 2010 council tax increase down because Bluh was intent on doing the ‘right-thing’ for the conservative group and its two Parliamentary candidates rather than doing what was best for the residents of the town.  Cllr Mark Edwards and Roderick Bluh rammed a reckless budget through council because it suited them politically. 


This is how councillors voted for Bluh's 2nd budget this year.





Voted FOR Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget


Conservative Cabinet - Voted unanimously FOR the budget

 


         





Voted FOR Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget

Conservative Back Benchers - Voted unanimously FOR the budget

               


Voted FOR Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget

Conservative Back Benchers - Voted unanimously FOR the budget

           


Voted FOR Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget

Conservative Back Benchers - Voted unanimously FOR the budget

               






Voted AGAINST Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget


The Labour Group - Voted unanimously AGAINST the budget

       

Voted AGAINST Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget

       



Voted AGAINST Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget

Independent Councillors - Voted unanimously AGAINST the budget






Voted AGAINST Cllr's Bluh & Edwards' Budget


Liberal Democrats - Voted unanimously AGAINST the budget

       






Councillors Abstaining From Voting



Rex Barnett (Con) Mayor  Ray Ballman (Lab) Deputy Mayor




Councillors not present at the meeting or recorded vote:

Mike Bawden (Con)   Andrew Bennett (Con) Ray Fisher (Con)

Glenn Smith (Con)  Brian Ford (Con)    Kevin Small (Lab)



FOR   34

AGAINST 15

ABSTENTIONS 2

ABSENT (From meeting and/or recorded vote 5



Offline Des Moffatt

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 10:25:39 AM »
I agree with this analysis, this is an edited version of what I said at the Council meeting

We told you that your budget was flawed at the February meeting in that it understated the expected costs in adult social care and the non education part of children's services at the very same time as you were putting over one million extra to requirement in general contingency.
From the revised columns page 24, Sub Total of Groups it is plain that the forecast has gone out to £2.404M more than the original budget, none of that has anything to do with this Condem government and certainly nothing whatever to do with the former Labour Government.
The self congratulation of the 2010/11 budget meeting is a bit hollow now and there is nobody to blame but this Tory administration. That might seem a bit harsh on Cllr Mark Edwards whom I quite like as a person but he did say and it was in the reports that the personal agenda in Adult Social Care being advocated by the then government would cost an extra 300 thousand but in tonight's report the personal agenda is listed as a way to save money. Either he was talking rubbish then or now.
As the current leader of the Council Cllr Bluh has been quoted as saying, the budget then was an electioneering budget.

This second bite at the budget was an opportunity for the Tory Council to correct the mistakes of the February effort but you have made matters worse. How is it, you have recast the budget and made, allegedly £5M savings and ended up where you started, at exactly the same bottom line. We can see where it is but more on that later. I fully expect many to switch off thinking about the detail and clearly commentators have accepted as gospel what you have been saying about savings made and saving intended but the level of disinformation now being peddled means that for those of us who take an interest in the detail you have lost all credibility.

If a family thinks about buying a new plasma telly they can't afford and the then doesn't buy it, it can't really be called a saving, that what you have been doing, calling such potential spending not implemented "a saving".

The oft repeated £45M over 3 years is nonsense. Even though I suspect that many people such as Steph Exel know instinctively that something is wrong in all this cutting, you do need to look closely at the detail of the false limits being implemented to understand why.
I would be grateful for some attention while I tell you why the £45 million is nonsense.
The Director of Finance has estimated, and that is all it can be, an estimate, that the level of Government grant will reduce by £5M on each of the next three years. Lets accept that and in doing so remember the mantra from the Tory front bench at each and every Council meeting since you been in charge, "not enough money from the then Labour Government."
OK then the Tory Government intends to reduce Swindon's grant funding for the next three years by £5 million a year. At the same time there will be growth in Council tax income by virtue of new housing being occupied and residents paying council tax amounting to £800 thousand each year. There will be a corresponding increase in redistributed business rates taking into account the increase in population. This is in your own papers; the resulting resource gap is £3.4 million. The second element of the £45 million is a stab in the dark as to expected growth in demand and resulting costs the Council will need to bear.
Your guess is £10 million a year but you don't need to guess, you need only look at what the growth has been in the net budget in the past three years. It has been £4.1M; on average.
These figures are publicly available on the Webb site.
 
It is clear from this that not only are you cutting more than is necessary you are cutting more than the Comdem government asks you to cut.

You have made a political decision to cut and slash services and seek to justify that by manipulating the population of Swindon to believe it unavoidable.
Were this Labour Group in charge we would not be doing this and we would not be seeking an under spend of £3.146.for political dogma. Page 24, bottom right hand column.

As we said in February, this is your Tory budget, these are your choices, this is your decision and these are your cuts

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 11:01:24 AM »
and Des now that the truth is out they have to live with the consequences of their decision to implement that wholly unsustainable budget in February.

You can deceive some of the people some of the time but you cannot deceive all the people all of the time.  The number is up and it is time to go, but then they will reap what they have sown next year. 

If you lot (Labour) get your act together there will be some very big and significant changes, which could even encompass the Tory bastion of Shaw and Nine Elms where Councillor contact is a rarity, except, of course, at election time.

Incidentally Des congratulations on your best and most incisive post to date.  I read and enjoyed every word, despite its length.
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Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 11:48:13 AM »
Here are the comments of Councillors recorded by the Adver, including some of Des' comments:

http://swindontuc.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/council-budget-what-the-councillors-said/

Strangely enough Nick martin's comments are interesting. What does he mean in relation to the £30 million, Des?

You can also see the test of the speech by the parent of a user of One Step Ahead.

Martin

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 11:58:44 AM »
Here are the comments of Councillors recorded by the Adver, including some of Des' comments:

http://swindontuc.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/council-budget-what-the-councillors-said/

Strangely enough Nick martin's comments are interesting. What does he mean in relation to the £30 million, Des?

You can also see the test of the speech by the parent of a user of One Step Ahead.

Martin


Martin

I think Cllr Bluh answered Cllr Bob Wright at Cabinet who was pressing to find out the amount being claimed it was confirmed as £30 Million not £45 Million. I was not there so perhaps cllr Bob will be on to comment?

and Des now that the truth is out they have to live with the consequences of their decision to implement that wholly unsustainable budget in February.

You can deceive some of the people some of the time but you cannot deceive all the people all of the time.  The number is up and it is time to go, but then they will reap what they have sown next year. 

If you lot (Labour) get your act together there will be some very big and significant changes, which could even encompass the Tory bastion of Shaw and Nine Elms where Councillor contact is a rarity, except, of course, at election time.

Incidentally Des congratulations on your best and most incisive post to date.  I read and enjoyed every word, despite its length.


Richard

Maybe deception is best summed up as "Myth is invulnerable to mere facts" Barthes
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Offline Bogomil

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 01:32:07 PM »
2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame or Infamy

FOR   34

AGAINST 15

ABSTENTIONS 2

ABSENT 5


There are 58 Councillors and the numbers on who was there is slightly wrong.

I know from another posting on FB that Ian Dobie, Glenn Smith, Kevin Small and Paul Baker were not there,

Andrew Bennet WAS there.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2010, 01:52:50 PM »
I'm aware of two inconsistencies with the recorded vote. 

1. Paul Baker appears to have been recorded as voting AGAINST, but his vote seems to have then been struck through.  Certainly the AGAINST votes ought to total 16 but are recorded as 15.

2. Andrew Bennett may well have been in the chamber but he is not recorded as having said FOR or AGAINST.  He is marked as absent on the voting paper and therefore appears in the above section called: "Councillors not present at the meeting or recorded vote"

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2010, 03:02:39 PM »
 
A lot of things puzzle me about the way some councillors voted, but, starting with one of my own ward Councillors....

1. Cllr Michael Dickinson supposedley knows how to count and knows his way around budgets.  Presumably his professional ability with numbers, (and not his political loyalty), is why he is the chairman of the Swindon Borough Council Audit Committee and sits on the Budget Monitoring Advisory Group.

How does a numbers man, (and member of a professional body?), reconcile his professional integrity with the certain knowledge that he has now voted FOR 2 of Bluh & Edwards sham budgets?

I view councillor Dickinson as something of a financial 'MOT tester'.  By voting FOR this budget Dickinson must know, (better than most of the Conservative herd), that the coach which has just left his workshop has no brakes, bald tyres, wonky steering and is very likely to kill some of it's passengers when it inevitably crashes....

.....but he signed the MOT certificate anyway, because his boss told him to.


How are you going to sleep at night Michael?   

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2010, 04:11:48 PM »
2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame or Infamy

FOR   34

AGAINST 15

ABSTENTIONS 2

ABSENT 5


There are 58 Councillors and the numbers on who was there is slightly wrong.

I know from another posting on FB that Ian Dobie, Glenn Smith, Kevin Small and Paul Baker were not there,

Andrew Bennet WAS there.

Bogy I am sure Ian Dobie was there last Thursday, puting in a rare appearance. Have you forgotten what he looks like?

Just checked Geoff's voting list and he is on it as voting for the budget.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 04:36:30 PM »
 
Ian Dobie is recorded as having been present and voted FOR the budget.

Offline Muggins

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2010, 04:49:29 PM »
Richard said: "and Des now that the truth is out they have to live with the consequences of their decision to implement that wholly unsustainable budget in February".

If only it was just them that would have to live with it.

First blood looks to be the Parks Department where employees have been told that all 5 parks officers will be made redundant and they must apply for two new jobs to be created to include the work the five are doing now. 

Something must have happened for them to have been informed earlier than expected.   

We need to remember that these redundancies are all in the front line and that they come on top of chop after chop in that department over the past ten years.
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Offline Drone

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2010, 05:19:51 PM »
First blood looks to be the Parks Department where employees have been told that all 5 parks officers will be made redundant and they must apply for two new jobs to be created to include the work the five are doing now. 

We need to remember that these redundancies are all in the front line and that they come on top of chop after chop in that department over the past ten years.

And it's an incredibly hard working team who cover a huge amount of open space used by hundreds of thousands of people. In terms of health, relaxation, the environemnt, low cost family facilities, attractions for visitors, sport and recreation, how do parks NOT fit in to a postive vision for the future of Swindon?
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Offline Drone

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2010, 05:22:45 PM »
An interesting letter from Sunday's Indie:

Quote
A switch to preventative medicine is well overdue for mental as well as for physical health ("Britain's £100bn mental health crisis", 3 October). The best and cheapest way is to improve the state of public parks and green spaces. In May, researchers at the charity Mind concluded that as little as five minutes of exercise in a green space can boost mental well-being.


However, parks have seen a reduction in budget of more than a third over the past 20 years, and a commensurate drop in their condition. Parks are owned by local authorities, which are faced with unprecedented demand for their services. Pressure to reduce the public debt will see the biggest cuts ever.

New, publicly accountable organisations need to be set up to manage the public realm at prices the local population is willing to pay from its taxes. This has worked in the "world's most liveable city", Vancouver, for the past 120 years, via a city-wide, democratically elected Parks and Recreation Board.

Parks and green spaces should not have to face a future of neglect. The first duty of local authorities is the maintenance of the civic realm and upholding civic pride. The Victorians understood this and the improvements to public health were immense.

Dr Alan Barber

Bristol
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2010, 05:34:23 PM »
 
Who will explain what 'Civic Pride' is to Rod's Bluhligans ?

Would he listen if they did?

Or would he think it was a march of Gay civil servants?

Offline Muggins

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2010, 05:44:46 PM »
Bluh's final words at the SSP Conference was

TALK SWINDON UP
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Tea Boy

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2010, 05:51:28 PM »
Muggins, I take it R has been round the house.

I just read your post and phoned R. Apparently theres a proposal to reduce the parks officers by one and one of the two senior rangers is to go . So its 6 jobs into 4.

We had heard rumours and I think R even thought this would happen any way.

Hardly protecting green spaces is it

One Swindon??? not really starting off well are they
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Offline Muggins

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2010, 05:57:44 PM »
If that's true that's down to three Rangers then, bet its mor than that.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Tea Boy

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2010, 06:03:40 PM »
If that's true that's down to three Rangers then, bet its mor than that.

Hmm, Karl or Bob as top dog, Ian, Tom, Mike and teh two new uns.....

Its about time we realised these are real people doing worth while jobs.

must be 6 rangers in total? Not very good seeing that when SBC made teh last three redundant they, SBC pissed off all the volunteers rangers  who now won't work at coate water any more.
Gardening tips: Always remember its brown side down, green side up.  If its knocking now it'll only go bang later

Offline Muggins

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2010, 06:10:51 PM »
Better make sure that people know that the ones that pissed off (whoops sorry) the volunteers were in fact the council for making rangers redundant and not the rangers.  Anyway all the people you named know their stuff too and they know us.  we've already lost many of the knowledgeable ones, they just get to know places and then poof they have gone again.

I am utterly sick of the changes and the changed of heirachy and personel.  I just don't bother to learn names now, because I know by the time fo the next conference or whatever, there will be another person in that post.  The cost involved must be horrendous.

Just a reminder to SBC volunteers are supposed to be an add on enhancement of your service NOT a replacement for it. 

It's shame we can't get ictures and as we hear of  sackings, put the photo up and bit about them, (just like the Cabinet and SSP) to bring home the personal aspects of each and very job loss.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Drone

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Re: 2010 Emergency Budget: The Wall of Fame, Shame, Or Infamy
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2010, 06:36:16 PM »
Once again, obviously absolutely every library should stay, etc, etc... but, considering the number of users, how come libraries are so much more able to mobilise support against closure than parks? Is it the 'natural' myth, that left alone green areas magically develop lakes, biodiversity, picnic fields and grassed areas that never need mowing? Is it because the council would never actually close these places, just let them slowly be destroyed through neglect or outright abuse.

Unless Rod's got a womble reintroduction programme on the cards, we need our park staff! And, they are every bit as dedicated, knowledgable and qualified as our museum, arts or library staff!

Talk Parks Up!
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