Lots of attention will be paid to Dudley on Thursday. Dudley North had a Labour majority of just 649 over the Conservatives last time and is also a UKIP target. In Dudley South the Conservative candidate Cllr Mike Wood is defending a majority for the Conservatives of 3,856 last time.
There will also be local elections in Dudley. Labour hold the council at present and a third of the seats are up for election. The Green Party along with UKIP the Conservatives and Labour are fielding full slates of candidates for the 24 seats being contested. But the Lib Dems are only running four candidates.
I have reported earlier on how Dudley Council spends £233,000 a month on taxis taking children to school.
A study by the Taxpayers Alliance found that the Council also tops the league for credit card spending. The Daily Mail reports:
“Dudley Council was the biggest spender, racking up £5.5million over 50,407 transactions on 862 cards.
“Council staff made 147 taxpayer-funded visits to KFC and McDonald’s in the 2011 to 2012 tax year.”
They employ 11 full time union officials.
The council has £736 million of debt and spends £38.7 million a year on interest – including £26 million from the General Fund. That means that over a quarter of Council Tax revenue is spent on debt interest.
Yet the same Council cuts services and complains about central government “austerity” – rather an addressing it’s own culture of waste, cronyism and poor management.
Labour gained control in 2012 due to UKIP candidates in several wards taking votes from the Conservatives. The consequences have been all too clear.