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News and Comment January 2021

Index: 20202021

23 January (Part 1) - Audit loses audio

Last week’s Audit and General Purposes Committee meeting in Bexley didn’t start with a bang, on the contrary, the webcast was muted for the first ten minutes or so. It is unlikely that anything important was lost, there was nothing particularly interesting in any part of the 90 minutes that was broadcast.

Consideration had been given to providing eight additional polling stations should it be necessary to provide Covid secure facilities later in the year. Unfortunately sites were hard to find and only two changes are likely to be made. In Slade Green a room has been found within the Slade Green Railway Club and in Northumberland Heath it is likely that the King Henry Community Sports Centre will be used for the first time. Moving from Portacabins should save about £9,000 per election.

As part of the Erith Regeneration Programme which will renovate a section of Erith High Street a very small part of it will be closed off and redesignated as part of the Riverside Centre. I am not familiar with the area (and going to look would probably not be considered an essential journey) but a diagram provided to Committee members showed the closure to be insignificant. The total cost will be £286,000 with only £67,000 funded by Bexley Council.

The Committee recommended a staff pay award of 2·75% backdated to 1st July 2020 with an extra day’s leave for some.

The Committee also went through its legal requirement to approve the Council Tax Base without a single word of comment. It was set at the equivalent of 81,741 Band D properties.

BexleyCo has been loaned £13 million and Council owned land at Hainault and West Street is being transferred to BexleyCo and due for completion before the end of the financial year. The agreed loan limit is £120 million.

Temporary housing costs continue to drag Bexley down and an effort is to be made to reduce the costs of storing the possessions of homeless people put in temporary accommodation. Currently the costs exceed £200,000 a year and some has been held for years, in some case more than ten. If the owners cannot be contacted the goods will be disposed of.

The temporary accommodation budget is forecast to be overspent by £2·7 million this year.

 

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