BROMSGROVE District Council’s 2018/19 budget, rubber-stamped at last week’s full council meeting, has been slammed by Labour leader Coun Luke Mallett who said the authority was ‘in crisis with a budget for bankruptcy and borrowing’.
Coun Luke Mallett leader said: “The numbers clearly don’t stack up beyond the coming year, and the council is heading for a financial disaster.”
He said the worst part about the budget was the Government’s ‘negative revenue support grant (RSG)’ or, as the Labour group called it: ‘the Sajid tax’ in reference to the Bromsgrove MP.
Because Bromsgrove District Council is considered one of 15 ‘affluent’ councils in the country – and the only one in England outside the home counties – it was told it would not receive cash from central Government this year, but could be expected to pay more than £740,000 in both 2019/20 and 2020/21, totalling £1.48million, through the ‘negative support grant’.
But Bromsgrove District Council leader Coun Geoff Denaro said while he also disagreed with the negative RSG, it was unfair to call it a ‘Sajid tax’.
“It was brought in by Greg Clarke three years ago and we went down to meet with the Minister at the time to contest it.
“Sajid called for a consultation on it which I believe is due to be held in the spring and, although we don’t know what the outcome will be, he appears to be going the right way about it.
“Ideally we want the Government to get rid of it.”
Mr Javid told The Standard: “I inherited this and I have heard from all the councils, including Bromsgrove, about the issue.
“We have listened to those councils and we will be holding a consultation in the spring to look at the options as a way of dealing with it.”
He said the consultation was the formal process that had to be undertaken before any changes were made.
Coun Mallett also called for the sports hall replacement to be factored into the budget.
“The truth is that this is all about choices – the choice to outsource services for private profit – the leisure centre and the market to name but two.”
He also criticised the sharing of services with Redditch and called to ‘cut back the £1million salary bill for the top ten officers in the council’.
“There are now very real questions as to whether Bromsgrove Council will survive the next few years. It is a council in crisis.”
Coun Denaro said it would have been impossible to include the sports hall in the budget as the figures relating to the cost of refurbishing the current sports hall or replacing it were not yet known. They are currently being calculated and are due to be revealed in the coming weeks.
On the salary bill, he said it had already been reduced and services from Redditch had saved the authority money.