For the second year running our neighbouring Tory borough are promising a 3% cut in council tax, see their press release. Some people think that the Hammersmith and Fulham Tories are being a bit full-on going for lower taxes each year. Ealing has chosen a different path. Rather than going for headline cuts we are taking a steady-as-she-goes approach. We are working equally as hard as H&F to make savings – we discussed Â£10.8 million worth of savings at last night’s Overview and Scrutiny panel. Opposition councillors made a few desultory comments but there were no objections voiced to any of the savings being proposed.
The difference between Ealing and H&F is not in our search for efficiency and value for money it is in our approach to spending the dividend. H&F has decided to return it to council tax payer – an entirely reasonable and honourable thing to do. Our approach is to spend it on things that our council taxpayers really want – more street cleaning, better recycling, more road resurfacing and 50 new PCSOs. These are services that only a local authority can provide. We think our approach is right for Ealing. I am sure the Tory group in H&F think their approach is right for their borough.
Both boroughs are demonstrating that, for all the talk that local government is so constrained by central government that it isn’t interesting anymore, you can make a difference to your community if you have a vision. Greenhalgh in H&F and Stacey in Ealing are going down different paths but they both know where they are going.