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Ealing and Northfield

One open letter deserves another

Today the reasonable wing of the Ealing Labour party has come out in favour of Liz Kendall for leader of the Labour party. All well and good. Today council leader Julian Bell issued the “open letter” below:

Now at least the Ealing lefties will know who to knife at the next selection meeting.

Wasting no opportunity to get one of his favourite political lines in Bell says:

As Councillors from Ealing we know how hard the Tory government has hit our Borough. Ealing Council funding has been cut by £183m between 2010 and 2018 – that is over 50% of our budget…

This is a total misuse of words. Any normal understanding of the word budget is that it is the total amount you have to spend and what you spend it on. In reality Ealing Council spends in the order of £800 million a year but they are shy of saying this because it makes cuts that the council has had to endure sound too small. Is it really credible that Ealing Council is going to be half the size it was in 2010? No. I last looked at this last summer and the council’s expenditure since 2010 had essentially been flat in cash terms.

The council may well have lost something like half of its central government funding, which is extremely painful, but its council tax revenue has been going up in spite of the freeze, due to new building among other factors, and it has ramped up prices for council services considerably (£10 million of the “savings” in the last council 2010-2014 were price rises, so no cuts at all, just price rises replacing government grant).

Rather than write an open letter to Bell who will either not respond or who will fail to give me an honest answer I have written To the Chief Executive of the council, Martin Smith.

Letter to Martin Smith 17th August 2015