Labour-run Tower Hamlets Council are increasing Council Tax by 2.3% – as Boris is freezing the Mayor’s precept this means the total bill will rise 1.6% overall. Tower Hamlets is increasing its share by almost twice the average increase of London borough councils of 1.2%.
The Conservative opposition sat down with officers and thrashed out a detailed, credible, costed alternative budget with they proposed. Much of this work has been done by Cllr Tim Archer (pictured), the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group and PPC for Popar and Limehouse. Had the alternative budget been adopted it would have resulted in a 1% Council Tax cut – which would have meant that Tower Hamlets would have joined Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chlelsea and become the third London borough to actually reduce bills this year. Of course the Labour majority voted them down.
Here were the savings Tower Hamlets Conservative councillors proposed:
- East End Life. Discontinue publication of East End Life and
request officers to negotiate with other local newspaper to provide
pre-booked pages at lower cost. £ 673,000
- Press Office. Reduce the size of the press office to the minimum
level, Cutting the nukber of manager from seven to two 7 in line with
how an equivalent sized commercial organisation
would resource itself. £278,852
- Members’ Allowances. Scrap the planned inflation rise and cut by 1%. £26,985
- Lead Members. Reduce the number of Cabinet Members from 10 to nine
by merging the roles of Lead Member for Housing & Development and
lead Member for Regeneration, Localisation and Community Partnerships.
- Deputy Mayor. Scrap the planned increase for the Deputy Mayor role. £2,000.
- Senior Officers. Merge the roles of Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer. £215,000.
- Senior Officers. Half the number of Assistant Chief Executives. £195,000.
- Subscriptions. Cancel membership of the Local Government Association and the Local Government Information Unit. £67,000.
- Recycling. Scrap the recycling advertising campaign. £20,000.
- Recruitment. Freeze recruitment and screen all vacancies. Committee
comprising the Chief Executive and Leader to reduce new recruitment by
an expected 18 roles. £540,000.
- Contractors and agency staff. All contractors and agency staff to take a 10% pay cut, except those on living wage. £500,000.
- Advertising. Reduce advertising budget by 20%. £90,000.
- Communications. Scrap the ‘In the news’ press cuttings service. £7,500.
- Travel costs. 10% saving on all staff travel costs. £35,000.
- Conferences. End all attendance at conferences. £167,000.
- Food costs. Discontinue the serving of food at Council meetings save for Civic functions. £15,000.
- Administrative support. Delete the post of Leaders executive assistant. £46,827.
- Administrative support. Delete the posts of the political advisors. £76,742.
- Administrative support. Remove administrative support to Lead Members. £93,452.
- Fines. As a result of investment in more Animial wardens and litter wardens, increase revenue generated from fines. £10,000.
- Asset Management Request officers to outsource asset management,
with a view to containing the cost within existing budgets, removing
the need for growth included in the Cabinet’s budget. £300,000.
Total additional savings
The alternative budget also allowed for some growth items to fight
crime including funding funding 17 extra police officers, more CCTV and
a 50% Council Tax discount for residents who volunteer to become