The tweeting Labour cabinet members in Ealing were notably quiet during tonightâ€™s cabinet meeting. Maybe they have come to the realisation that it is unseemly to be diddling with their smartphones during public meetings?
The most important report tonight was the Budget Strategy 2012/13 and the most important element of this was the stunning Â£131 million of new general fund capital expenditure outlined by the council. Where is the money coming from you might ask? The answer is that Â£85 million is coming from central government mainly to be spent on providing additional primary and secondary school places. This council has been silent on the wall of money coming to Ealing from central government to help us tackle some of our most pressing problems.
It is worth looking at some of these programmes in detail, in Appendix 4 of the report here.
The biggest item of expenditure is maintaining and improving Ealingâ€™s primary and secondary schools. Some Â£95.240 million of schools capital spending has been added to the capital programme. Of this Â£79.063 million (or 83%) is government grants. For all of Labourâ€™s bluster about the ending of the wasteful BSF programme the government is providing vast sums of money to support the expansion of the Boroughâ€™s schools system.
Looking across the existing capital programme and the money outlined above some Â£291 million is currently programmed to be spent on the Borough’s schools of which some Â£185 million (or 64%) is coming from the Tory-led government as Labour now likes to call it. Don’t expect Labour’s lacklustre education lead, Dr Patricia Walker, to explain this to you.