Another week, another £1.32 million wasted by our council

Posted On 31 Jan 2021 at 12:05 am

Last week was just another week at Brighton and Hove City Council with more taxpayers’ money thrown out the window to deal with the (un) expected consequences of Labour and the Greens’ ideological policy decisions.

This time it was revealed that the council would be required to spend an additional £1.32 million to pay for the ongoing costs of the housing repairs service insourcing policy.

The council budget papers refer to this additional £1.32 million of expense as an “investment”, but the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for this – council tenants and leaseholders who contribute to the Housing Revenue Account – would likely consider this to be anything but an investment of their money.

Before the last council election Labour and the Greens combined to push through an ideological policy to “insource” the council’s housing repairs service. Labour even listed this as an achievement in its manifesto.

There was nothing fundamentally wrong with contract for housing repairs (the issue that became very clear and what was documented was that the council did not manage the contract as required).

But Labour and the Greens didn’t like the idea of a service being provided by a private entity and thought the council should create a department to do the work itself.

The cost of this policy change was estimated by council officers in 2018 at £8 million – enough in itself to persuade the Conservatives that this was not a good idea.

Predictably, the policy has cost even more – a recent audit has shown it has already cost £9.3 million plus other spends yet to be identified even before this additional £1.32 million is taken into account.

It has also proved impossible to implement and landed the council in a protracted industrial dispute with the unions, unresolved for nearly a year, generating hours and hours of legal expenses.

Last week the Housing Committee released papers showing those additional costs totalling £1.32 million that would have to be incurred in next year’s budget.

This includes consultancy costs and legal expenses, higher staff costs given that the transition period has had to be extended and salary increases to meet local government pension requirements.

All of these administrative costs will be paid for through the Housing Revenue Account – a fund made up of council tenants’ rents and leaseholders’ contributions.

It is just another example of the most vulnerable in Brighton and Hove paying the price for Labour and the Greens’ poor and completely avoidable ideological decisions.

It adds to almost £16 million of waste by the council that has already been identified by the press in the past 12 months.

This £16 million far outstrips the council’s projected deficit for next year of £10 million, which it will have to find savings for next month.

And at next month’s budget the Greens and Labour coalition will propose an increase in council tax and car parking charges across the city.

This 5 per cent council tax increase will add to the 4 per cent council tax increased implemented by Labour last year.

As usual Labour and the Greens will try to blame to government for this. But the facts speak for themselves: Labour can’t manage money – neither can the Greens.

And the cost will be borne by all taxpayers across the city, including council house tenants over the coming year.

In fact, council tax tenants will be hit twice, as they pay rent into the HRA and council tax into the general fund.

This no way to treat the most vulnerable residents in this city but is a consequence of avoidable and ideologically driven policy decisions.

Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Daniel Harris Reply

    Ideology. Steve Bell just wants to keep his mates wealthy with the crappy privatised services. I mean his mate was a secretary of baron homes and an elected councillor, you got to keep
    Your eyes on these lot sometimes. Time for bell to stand aside and let someone like Joe Miller take the reigns. mears were just useless and the city is helping those in need more than ever right now.

    Even if with the few councillors they have left, the tories work hard behind the scenes with their officer mates, we need to have no tories in this city and replaced with a new progressive brighton party.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Would be nice if Daniel could spell or even compose a halfway literate email (‘reigns’ should be ‘reins’, Daniel). Perhaps he would like to share with us all what this ‘new progressive brighton party’ is supposed to be or what it might stand for. I note that he was suspended from Labour for alleged anti-Semitic behaviour, but have no idea whether he is still Labour (or which part of Labour – i.e. Momentum, mainstream Labour or what?) So perhaps he could enlighten us all, literately, as to what his political stance actually is and why he is proposing Joe Miller ( a Conservative) as a replacement for Steve Bell?

      I sign off as wholly confused of Brighton (the name of the city begins with a capital letter, Daniel).

  2. Richard Daughtrey Reply

    I would have thought that Councilor Bell tell’s the truth, greens and Labour are wasteful of taxpayers money, lets hope the electors have there say when it comes to the elections.

  3. Andrew Milford Reply

    I think it’s a little unfair that this piece of Tory Propaganda isn’t labelled as such. It’s being presented as a News Piece written by Tory councillor. Hardly non-biased piece of reporting shame on you and fcuk the Torys!

    • Greens Out Reply

      So those two useless wastes of space Pghlem and Nancy are allowed to have their ‘opinions’ aired on the ‘opinions’ section on this site but Steve isn’t? Seems about right for this delusional town.

    • Ren Reply

      Er, it clearly says OPINION and appears with the opinions of other politicians from other parties!

  4. Chris Reply

    How much is the I360 going to cost us when it finally goes bust ?
    A bankrupt council is a real possibility with another year of no tourism.

    Now that will make Tory “austerity” look like going to bed with no supper…

  5. Rob Heale Reply

    The Tory Councillors voted with all the Green Party Councillors for the PUBLIC FUNDING of the i360, which is now making MASSIVE LOSSES!

    • Hove Guy Reply

      That was then and this is now. We are where we are, and there is little point in looking back at the daft decisions made by previous councillors. What matters now is what is to be done about it? The council must stop pretending that it is a worthwhile investment to which we taxpayers must go on contributing. It clearly doesn’t draw in visitors to the city, even during the good times, so it is high time consideration was given to its demolition.
      It would not be so bad if it had any architectural merit. But it is totally bereft of any aesthetic quality. It just looks like an enornous industrial chimney with a doughnut going up and down. The view from it is not that spectacular, half of it being just of the sea. Its removal will be of no great loss to Brighton,

  6. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Totally agree. And you can’t even see the sea when it’s foggy. I had a friend with a flat (not high rise particularly) and balcony which had a much better all-round view – and that was free, with no cost to residents.

    • billlo Reply

      Apart from the cost of buying (or renting) the flat to be able to enjoy said spectacular sea view lol!

  7. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    It’s a block of council flats, which sometimes smelled of boiled cabbage, with a wonky lift, just off Edward Street, not luxury penthouses and rich people by any remote means at all.

  8. Ben Earl Reply

    There is waste, and some questionable decisions, but I’m not sure any one party has the monopoly of wisdom on this one.

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