next speaker was the irrepressible Cabinet Member David Leaf. Fortunately the
Mayor told him he could speak for only five minutes. Councillor Leaf said “this is a budget which
has shaped by Covid but it is a shining light of hope. It is a budget to Build
Back Better. Before the pandemic struck we knew we faced a challenge and tough
choices. We took early action because we knew there was a substantial gap to
fill.” He too referred to the review of the local government funding formula being deferred due to Covid.
“We put forward proposals for consultation and have given due regard to the thousands of responses.” (If you read through those responses you will find a wide spectrum of views. It is not difficult to choose those which suit the Council best.)
“We made provision for extra headroom should we need it and we went through many Scrutiny and Cabinet meetings with our plans encouraging all Member engagement. It has been a difficult process because of the uncertainty but we did not give in to pessimism and we did not surrender to difficulty. We stand on the side of residents and businesses at this time of need. This budget invests over £200 million in a multi-year capital programme. We choose to Invest in the Public Realm and BexleyCo and new libraries. We choose to invest £177 million in revenue spending; the vital services, adults, children and people with disabilities. Our budget will stand the test of time. It will Build Back Better.”
Three seconds under five minutes and no criticism of the Labour Group. Surely a first?
A careful choice of words half succeeded in concealing the propaganda message that ‘investment’ would amount to £248 million. As noted earlier, most of it is just bog standard spending.