Wednesday, 22 February 2017

BREAKING: Tower Hamlets Labour Party Rejects John Biggs's Budget

Last night, there was another night of THLP elections -called AGM part 2, to finish the unfinished part of the 10th AGM. I hear it was full of drama, counting and recounting and more frustrations with procedures and rule book. I did not attend, but I will be writing a report later as there were some seriously interesting discourse at place

At this moment though, the night when proposed budget is being discussed at the full council meeting at Town Hall, what is most important is that -the party has passed a resolution criticising the Mayor and the Labour Group -for lack of consultation, and referred the budget back to John Biggs who has the ultimate say on budget as the executive Mayor of the borough.  

The motion was proposed by Labour party members active on the left of the party and was given a 'substantial majority' by the delegates at a vote with 1 minute to spare.

Here is the resolution that has been posted through my letter box:

This GC notes:
1. That the Tory Government has made massive cuts in local authority funding because of its austerity policies.
2. There has been a lack of meaningful consultation between the Mayor/Labour Group and party members on the general budget strategy and the specific programme of cuts the Mayor has adopted.
3. That this draft budget includes significant reductions in expenditure on children and young people, disproportionately affecting the young, women and BAME residents of LBTH.

This GC believes:
1. That the £16million cut to Adult Social Care (£8 million cut and $8million projected growth) severely underestimates the impact of the draft proposals on the elderly and severely disabled.
2.That the well-being of TH youth is being ignored by closing the youth centres;
3.That ELY services are being punitively targeted.




This GC has identified the following areas of concern and believes that the Mayor should:
1. Rethink the new strategy: Ageing Well in Tower Hamlets (ref Reference ADU 001/17-18) because he overestimates the benefits of assistive technology and underestimates the impact of staff cuts and loneliness for the elderly.
2. Explain how the proposed closures of Day Care Centres, to be replaced with existing leisure services will not severely reduce the quality and specialism of care for the elderly.
3. Remove the introduction of a weekly support cost cap within the priority scheme, Helping people with a Learning Disability to live independently (Reference ADU 003/17-18) which will only undermine the otherwise progressive policy outlined.
4. Provide an alternative proposal to the £2.9million cut to Youth services which will see all taken over by the voluntary (private) sector
5. Delay the introduction of £30million cuts through efficiency savings, and protect back room and front line staff, until impact assessments and staff consultations have been published and debated within the party.
6. Propose an alternative to privatisation of day nurseries, including Overland’s specialist nursery for hearing-impaired children proposed under the title, “Increasing the involvement of partners”, where savings of £125,000 are to be obtained in the budget for the Early Years’ Service in 2017/18 (and further savings of £1.204 million and £1.079 million in 2018/19 and 2019/20 respectively.
7. Give detailed figures and explanations of the spending associated with reserves.

This GC has identified the following 2 areas of expenditure that the Mayor should reverse:
1. £500,000 on communications despite staff cuts.
2. The introduction of free wifi across the borough at a cost of £1.3million.

This GC resolves:
1.That in future years there must be much better consultation with party members on the budget, with party members receiving adequate information in a process which is given enough time for the party's views to be established and delivered to the Mayor/Group
2. To call on the Mayor and Labour Group to develop a political, campaigning strategy which makes it clear that the cuts are made because of the Tories' austerity policies and will cause real harm.
3. To refer this budget back to the Mayor.


It will be interesting to see if John Biggs values the GC's opinion and reflect on his actions. It will also be more interesting to see who amongst the Labour Group members supports reviewing the budget. Especially the British Bangladeshi councillors who has been lobbied by the BAME Labour members, being alerted on WhatsApp group on the impact of the budget on the BAME youths who are already suffering from immense poverty, is on watch.  Not that a vote on budget matters, John Biggs will have the final say and it is up to him to take a heed on his colleague’s suggestions on the budget.

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