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News and Comment February 2024

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19 February (Part 2) - Another “diatribe”

When I checked the Finance webcast the day after the Scrutiny meeting I was relieved to see that it lasted only an hour and seventeen minutes but when I checked back yesterday it had become two hours and thirty four minutes. Double to the very last second. Seems too much of a coincidence to me but whatever the case there is now an extra hour of (probable) boredom to sit through.

Letְ’s see if I am right.

Cabinet Member Leaf, whilst denying it was a political point, said that the reserves and climbed from £5·5 million to £14 million since 2006 and Bexley is not the only Council that has had to eat into reserves to cover over-spends which are at about 5%. A lot less than some of our neighbours.

Councillor Daniel Francis quoted the CIPFA report which said Bexley had the lowest reserves of any comparable Council.

Councillor Leaf plans efficiency savings of £250,000 in each of the four Directorates mainly by cutting back on run of the mill things. He mentioned paper clips but maybe not altogether seriously.

Fees and charges raise about £45 million a year and they are to be hiked above the level of inflation yet again, generally by around 6%. Keen to contrast Bexley with Greenwich, Councillor Leaf said theirs are going up by 6·7%.

A watchful eye is being kept on the financial balance between BexleyCo building in Felixstowe Road (final section of Part 2 of PDF) and keeping the land as a car park.

Towards the end of the meeting Chairman Steven Hall invited Cabinet Member Leaf to present his formal “diatribe” but he didn’t have a lot to say, preferring to keep his powder dry for this week’s Cabinet Meeting but he was looking forward to every Councillor supporting his budget in March.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour Slade Green & Northend) congratulated the Council on their support for LGBT History Month and contrasted it with Bromley which offers none.

Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) said the Direct Debit reminders were not functioning correctly and he had tried the opt out facility three times, apparently successfully except that the reminders kept on coming and the email Reply address bounced. It was, he said, not compliant with GDPR. Councillor Leaf said he would get it fixed; which is what he said last July.


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