Last night, Labour group leader, Councillor Angela Wilkins proposing Bromley Labour's sixth alternative budget for the borough. Here is what she said:
"I fully expect our alternative budget to be rejected. But I take solace in fact that some of our previous proposals have in fact been implemented:
The difference is that if Labour had been running this council, the last four actions wouldn’t have been necessary.
And we wouldn’t have spent millions on commercial properties – particularly retail ones – that have now depreciated so much in value that this council is taking a massive hit on the so-called family silver. The over-valuations in last year’s books is unprecedented and unacceptable. Not least as we now have three years of unclosed accounts.
Had Labour been running this council, the provision of social and affordable housing would have started 6 years ago – this council would not be facing the current huge costs of temporary accommodation.
Let’s be honest – only reason members opposite voted for modular housing is the cost to this council of homelessness, not the human cost to the lives of families. I have heard comments such as “we don’t want more affordable housing – it’ll only get filled up with immigrants.”
Far more could have been done sooner, had the political will been there. 78% of councils now have companies building homes to sell or rent. What more social housing would have done is put a decent roof over the heads of people like a resident in my ward Crystal Palace.
This man is physically disabled and has various mental health problems. I have, for a year, been trying to get him re-housed and the mental health support he needs – support which was bizarrely taken away the moment he was diagnosed with autism.
Last June this council put an abatement notice on his flat because of the extreme damp. He’s still there, still – still no care provision, still no adaptations so he can have a bath or shower, still no cooking facilities. He's living off Pringles and chocolate. And he is deeply depressed.
It’s a disgrace. I’m embarrassed – members opposite should be ashamed
My Labour Councillor colleagues will speak in more detail about specific areas for which they are the lead. But the major difference between Labour and Conservative budgets is summed up in one word: caring.
Caring more for people and the difficulties they face, caring less for investments and rates of return.
We would sell McDonalds in Bournemouth – and instead buy the property in Penge which houses Trinity Medical Centre. Yes, the rate of return is a little lower – but I’d rather see tax-payers money supporting people’s health than facilitating growing rates of obesity.
Social value is hard to put a £ sign on – but often it saves money in the long run. It stimulates quality of life and greater happiness.
Bromley has the 3rd highest levels of depression in London – that is staggering for a council that boasts about being such a lovely place to live. Labour would not host a Loneliness Summit whilst allowing our day care centres to fail because this council has bled them dry with rent demands.
We would put our money where our mouth is in terms of this council’s zero carbon target. Limiting the management of greenhouse gases to scope 1 & 2 is nothing more than lip service.
Mind you, years of failing to maintain our buildings properly means this council has only itself to blame for the fact that we have the worst record in London for emissions from our own properties.
Just what £875k is supposed to do I don’t know – and I see no money proposed for future years.
Our amendment for an alternative budget is based on caring. It includes fully costed investment as follows:
Unfortunately, as predicted, Labour's alternative budget was voted down by the Conservative group. We hope to see many of the policies adopted.