The cabinet complained about government under-funding,1 which is like sailors hating the sea. There was no discussion about the energy crisis, home-working and office accommodation, staffing and retention, interest rates and ways of dealing with any of this in 2023.
Chris Wilkins: (began2) He spoke repetitiously and occasionally lost his place. He neither highlighted pertinent issues nor contextualised them. He offered counsels of despair.
He hasn’t discovered he’s a policy maker.
Gillian Ford: (20 minutes) She leads the principal cost centre, Adult Services. Her brief comments included an anecdote about a quadrupling of staff for a care issue. Typical? Probably not – just pre-emptive shroud waving.
Her remarks were inadequate. Cabinet needed insights on her principal revenue vampire: staffing costs. (pro rata cuts would be £6.5 million of the £19 million needed)
Keith Darvill: (21) Keith didn’t comment on his budget, preferring waffle. Flooding is a significant problem but can costs be subsumed into current budgets? Ambitions needed outlining especially if involving capital and ‘Invest to Save’.
Keith’s speech needed preparing up front.
Ray Morgon: (24) Ray’s interventions gave momentum to the debate. He claimed that if the public understood that 70% of the Council’s revenue went on statutory services, they’d accept a deteriorating environment. Laughably, he thought Conservative MPs would lobby for more funding.
Graham Williamson: (32) His speech included the phrase ‘Perfect Storm’ to describe financial pressures. He was stoical about losing popularity when cuts bite. He worried about the Council losing control to Commissioners on the balanced budget issue.
The best speech of the night.
Barry Mugglestone: (42) He spoke about increasing car parking charges which, surprisingly, isn’t an increase at all – it’s a return to pre-pandemic charges. So that’s all right then.
He read his speech, which other cabinet members should copy.
Oscar Ford astonishingly didn’t speak. He’s lead member for Children’s Services, which destroys everyone else’s budget. Nothing! Not even, ‘Thank you’. (pro rata cuts would be £6.5 million of the £19 million needed)
Paul Middleton: (1:02) He ought to be aware that his budget is likely to be savaged. He supported the budget propositions as being responsible.
Addendum: Government funding 2010-2022
Government funding has declined from £70 million to £1.5 million. This decline began with George Osborne in 2010. If the £70 million had increased with inflation it would have become £96.4 million. The real shortfall is £94.9 million. Conservative governments have increased taxation by outsourcing it to local authorities. Havering’s two Conservative MPs have been the cheer leaders of this policy.
1 Cabinet meeting 28th September 2022
2 Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) Times when they begin speaking, are in brackets