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Conservatives would restore pride and ambition to council – Alden

Conservatives would restore pride and ambition to council – Alden

🕔28.Feb 2017

The Conservative group will present an alternative budget to today’s full council meeting representing, it says, over £650M worth of changes to the Council, to “restore pride and ambition” to a “city council in chaos reeling from yet more negative press coverage.”

The group claims that it is the most comprehensive set of alternative proposals ever presented to the Council. From the statement, it is unclear how the budget changes would be being funded over above alterations to procurement and more controls over delegated spending authorities.

Councillors Robert Alden and Randal Brew will seek to demonstrate at today’s meeting how the local authority does not need to go ahead with the planned £3.2M savings from supporting people, cuts to the museum and arts services, or to parks and street cleaning.

The Conservatives also say they would invest in providing free car parking at local shopping centres, business rates discounts for filling empty shops and improvement funds for our local centres.

Labour plans to build on local parkland each year would be scrapped, say the opposition. They would help “get our streets clean by delivering pride in Birmingham clean-up crews to clean up Labours mess.”

The restoration of ‘community chest’, increasing to £8M a year by 2020, and a new youth ‘community chest’ would return “power to local communities allowing them to make a difference and providing the budget to deliver that change” according to the Conservative leader and his deputy.

Group leader Cllr Robert Alden said:

The national media are looking at our great city, our home, and calling it a national disgrace. This just can’t go on.

Next year the Council admit they have will have over £25M more to spend than they budgeted for last March, yet due to missing their directorate budgets by £67M last year, they are having to make cuts above and beyond what anyone else is having to do because they failed to take ownership of their own budget and deliver what they said they could.

Labour may have no pride in the abilities of our City and staff but we do, we know we can modernise our services transform delivery and provide the savings that would allow investment into Birmingham.

Our budget amendment, the most comprehensive ever seen from an opposition in this City, gives residents an insight into a different way of working, a City Council confident in itself and its City. It shows a way we can truly transform our home to take advantage of the booming regional growth currently taking place. Our plans would turbo charge the City – taking it back to the top.

Cllr Brew commented:

We will be presenting a range of savings that would protect frontline services including a crackdown on procurement and commissioning spend. For example by December 20% of all contracts let under delegated authority have been approved after the contract started. This gives you no ability to drive down costs.

We said when the Labour administration increased officer delegations to £10M it would lead to spend ballooning and that is exactly what has happened. We would cancel those increases in delegation and go further by taking them to far lower levels to get spending under control. The amount of changes we are proposing to the Council budget shows the detail and work we have put into making these plans work for the residents of Birmingham.

Cllr Alden will also touch on the recent crisis at the Council House. In pre-released remarks, he said:

It is no wonder frankly staff have not been pushing the modernisation and savings programs when there was an image of little risk of being held accountable. When the Leadership of the Council blame the Council’s issues on the Government and appear to fail to take responsibility that does not encourage staff to lead and take responsibility.

Now staff will be feeling the officer member relations at a lower ebb than ever before, kept in the dark about major decisions that affect them.

It is noticeable that Cllr Alden has not objected to the decision for Mr Rogers to take early retirement, but focused on the communication of the decision and evidence of clear plan covering next steps.

That mess which has led to the Council once again being dragged through the mud nationally sums up the total dysfunctionality with which Cllr Clancy is running this Council.

Labour like to highlight the national savings from Government as being at fault for all the Council’s woes. If this was the case there would of course be other Councils driving off the same cliff that Cllr Clancy has taken Birmingham. Yet there is not.

The damning reality is no other Council is failing like Birmingham is, no other Council is at such risk of Government take over currently. How long must the residents of Birmingham put up with Labour destroying our City and refusing to take any responsibility?

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