Havering’s Residents Associations Submit Amendment to Council Budget Proposals
The Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association, together with other members of ‘Havering’s Residents Associations’ (H.R.A), have submitted a formal amendment to Havering Council’s Conservative Administration’s budget proposals for 2020/21.
The budget (including the Council Tax) will be set at a Full Council meeting on Wednesday 26 February.
The H.R.A have released the following statement –
CUT COUNCIL ALLOWANCES RATHER THAN SHOPS!
Under pressure from residents, Leader Councillor Damian White is reinstating 30 minutes free parking for on-street parking but not for the car parks. Chair of the H.R.A, Councillor Gillian Ford said, “We are pleased the Conservative Administration have listened to the H.R.A by adopting a number of our previous budget options, despite the Leader, Councillor Damian White suggesting our Budget was not credible and the ludicrous sound bite that we were and will be cancelling Christmas, a national holiday! They have also adopted our previous proposal for free parking over the Christmas period. But who was it that got rid of the 30 mins free parking affecting trade before and after Christmas, resulting in shop closures and job losses? They should continue to follow our lead, listen to the businesses and residents, and reinstate the 30mins free parking as we intend to do with our Alternative Budget.”
The H.R.A have found £167,000 Budget savings by restructuring the Councillor Allowance Scheme and the Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee structure. Councillor Linda Hawthorn, Leader of the Upminster & Cranham Residents Association said “The Administration are increasing Member Allowances by £44,,000. Councillor Damian White didn’t mention that in his blog! It is clear there are sweeteners for some of the Administration Members, with the invention of positions, and the more than doubling of the Deputy Mayor allowance. Let’s see who takes that role in May! This is a total abuse of public funds. They are also introducing a Deputy Cabinet allowance of £14,677 without a budget, therefore depending on how many Deputies they appoint they may have to turn to the reserves or underspends found elsewhere.”
The H.R.A budget savings, focus on public concerns. Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Ray Morgon said “Local businesses and residents have questioned why £37,000 of tax payers money is spent solely on switching the Romford Christmas tree lights on. The H.R.A proposes the removal of this fund but is retaining Christmas events held across the borough. As well as the £37,000 for switching on the Romford tree lights, Romford receives an additional £49,000 for Christmas events, compared to £3,748 for Upminster, £3,500 for Collier Row, £600 for Hornchurch and £100 for Elm Park. We know how much our residents enjoy the town Christmas events but recognises the Council needs to be much smarter at attracting sponsorship, especially as residents see this as the least important area, according to the 2019 Public Survey.”
Deputy Leader of the Independent Residents, Councillor Graham Williamson went on to say that “We have also questioned why there has been an increased budget for the Living magazine with 6 editions published last year. Although sponsored, the magazine runs at a loss, so why do we still have the Living magazine, when our residents say “it goes straight into recycling” and “I never read it? We therefore intend to stop the publication, using alternative communication models, focusing on targeted engagement and communication with our electorate.”
The H.R.A have had a their Alternative balanced budget agreed by the Chief Finance Officer. The Amended Budget will be presented to Full Council by the Leader of the Opposition Councillor Ray Morgon on the 26th February, 2020.
Headline H.R.A Budget Proposals are:
· Reinstate 30 min Free Car Parking to Car Parks
· Saving £167,000 on Member Allowances
· Saving £156,000 Removal of Living Magazine
· Saving £37,000 Romford Christmas Light switch on
· Saving £70,000 from Communication Department Salaries