Sunday, 3 October 2010

Dealing With Tower Hamlets' Budgetary Mess

There is a recurring theme in this campaign that the opposition candidates are obsessed with. Rather than talk about their limited vision for the borough or their lacklustre track record, they instead claim that they will fight the Coalition government’s cuts, as if this means that LBTH will be exempted from the austerity measures.

This is simply unrealistic. Getting angry won’t get us more money. I have laid out many of the areas where I will be forced to make austerity budget decisions; council media and publishing, councillors’ allowances and the number of councillors, leaving Anchorage House, pooling back office support with neighbouring boroughs. What will the other candidates cut? Silence, save a promise to ‘slim down’ £2million a year East End Life.

The other candidates say they want to remind voters as to whose faults these cuts are. Let me save them the trouble. These are Labour’s cuts. The government is scrambling to save our AAA credit rating after 13 years of Brownenomics and locally, before we even approach any necessary austerity measures the government imposes on us, we have to deal with 18 years of a Labour council that has left us with a £60 million black hole in our budget. All of this happened on Labour’s watch, indeed under the leadership of two of the candidates for this election.

Voters may want to bear this in mind, too. When we have to negotiate with the government, who is Eric Pickles going to believe when they say they’ve made all the savings they can? A candidate whose party as previously run Tower Hamlets into this mess, or a Conservative?

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