£11 million underspent…

THE muttering inside Camden’s Labour group is back. Members have been told that after all the cutting and budget-squeezing chopping, there is actually an £11 million underspend in the Town Hall’s coffers. This doesn’t necessarily play well among councillors who have gone back to their wards and tried to front out cuts to public services as simply a central government assault.

The underspend will be explained as a way of cushioning the likelihood of demands from up high to cut back even further in the coming years. The static, however, increased within the group when members were asked if a bit of this £11 million could be borrowed to put the first payment down on Camden’s planned new headquarters in King’s Cross. This has always been a controversial move among a section of the group who believe the council will look a little indulgent opening new offices for itself when are services are being hacked back. Those for it continue to say the business case in their side.

11 Comments on £11 million underspent…

  1. They won’t be short of suggestions as to how to use it, so let me get mine in early..

    Put some of it towards the costs of revoking the planning permission at Dalby St, Talacre. Revocation is possible under the Town and Country Planning Act. It then requires an OK from the Secretary of State which shouldn’t be a problem. The developer is then likely to demand compensation. That can be resisted and any amount payable be minimal since he signed up to obligations which make it impossible to sell his private flats if Camden looks after the interests of the Sports Centre by requiring the optimum amount of marshaling (see page 5 of last week’s CNJ).

    It must be obvious now that the new road has been opened that the damage to the Sports Centre will be irreparable and be in £ms. The loss of face would be lessened by the fact that all three major parties were in power during the period when decisions were made and all regret not having been able to stop it.

    It needs bold action now – before it is too late!

    Nick Harding
    Savetalacre campaign

    • peter cuming // July 12, 2012 at 11:19 am //

      Attractive as Nick Harding’s idea for revocation is, a somewhat simpler remedy to the Dalby Street Disaster is to enforce the planning agreements with rigour and consistency and for Camden to refrain from providing its own space for construction activities. Furthermore, the release of public land, not part of the planning consent, to facilitate the building operation apart from being discretionary has reduced the area for the disabled to 2 substandard spaces. It was previously 9 spaces for the Talacre Community Sports Centre alone. The irony is that the Chief Executive has identified the lead officer to be a highwayman when not a square inch of highway remains since Dalby Street has been flogged off in its entirety.
      If Camden clears construction site huts and material stores off “our” land, the developer will have scope for serious reflection as to how this oversized project will be possible.

  2. Perhaps some of the Councillors who contribute to this blog would say why they would oppose revocation. But first, I hope they will visit the area if they haven’t done so since the new part completed road was opened. They should visit late afternoon on a school day or on weekends to get the full feel of the permanent damage this development is doing and will do. So lets here from you Theo, Chris et al

    Nick

    • Money Penny // July 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm //

      ‘Fears that government’s decision to take away Council Tax Benefit could force thousands to move out of borough’ (CNJ, July 12th 2012)

      Surely any available funding (and it’s a disgrace that the sums were wrong in the first place!) needs to be used to prevent the almost destruction of our communities in Camden.

      Ordinary people and their families – through no fault of their own – could suffer tremendous hardship here – it’s a disgrace and any decent politician will be doing everything possible to stop this latest assualt.

      Incidentally, why were the sums wrong? How many luncheon clubs and other facilities have needed to be axed in Camden? It certainly doesn’t generate much confidence or hope of any effective opposition in Camden.

      Money Penny

  3. Keith Sedgwick // July 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm //

    Well, Well,Well! It seems our Labour Council has been cutting “Too hard and Too fast”. I don’t suppose a rebate would be too much to ask for. After all, it is my money!

  4. It is not true that Camden has an “underspend of £11m.” Nor is it true that we have asked councillors to make cuts which aren’t necessary to balance the budget. Nor is it true the King’s Cross building needs extra cash.

    There is an underspend but it is actually £6.012m against the final budget, this figure includes an unused contingency of £2.512m.

    Against our budget this means that we underspent on 1.2% of our budget and most would agree that it is obviously better to underspend than overspend. We have set a balanced budget until 2014, with no extra cuts unless the government forces us to make extra ones.

    During an era of cuts it will be common for organisations to underspend. Other councils are underspending, and so is central government. This is because (a) the organisation is working more efficiently to achieve cuts and (b) savings projected for the whole year can come in early e.g. financial quarter 1 or 2 or 3 (c) savings ideas from previous years are coming into fruition.

    It is established policy that we invest money to save further pressures in the long-term (this is why we invested in the new building, to control £77m worth of office costs in the long term), so we are dedicating some money (not ‘extra’ money, we get it back) for cash flow on King’s Cross and we are putting £2.5m into pay modernisation (this starts a process where we aim to save £2m+ a year for the next 10 years).

    Labour agreed to campaign on HS2 impact for residents, so we reserved cash for this. There is £500,000 for digital inclusion and customer access and more money for the People’s Fund. £2m is set aside for Camden Plan projects focusing on growth and jobs and we are putting some more in reserve.

  5. Money Penny // July 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm //

    Sorry Theo!

    ‘£2m is set aside for Camden Plan projects focusing on growth and jobs’

    This all seems a little out of touch when one considers what’s happening on the ground!

    Does Camden have in place a strategy (a Plan) to stop less well off people, those residents too poor and unable to pay their council tax, from being thrown out of the borough??? Absolutely no comment whatsoever on this burning issue in your response? The Camden Plan – and some of us do read Camden’s website – is all about ‘Investing in our communities to ensure sustainable communities’.

    Well, if this latest proposal goes ahead unchallenged (and some politicians do need to stretch out occasionally beyond the letters page of the CNJ) we won’t be left with any communities to sustain!

    The details of any current Plan remain nothing less than out of touch waffle, empty words constructed by senior Camden officers on hugely inflated salaries, largely unchallenged by Cllrs who really need to be more in touch with what’s actually happening in the borough.

    Money Penny

    • I write in response to the CNJ article “Camden Doughnutted by Cuts” dated 12th July 2012.

      Ironic, and shamful when councillors try the ” Old Political Point Scoring ” at the expense of the people of this Borough. I think it is shamful when the likes of Cllr Mennear try to defend Central Government for the indefensible cuts, which ultimately place the Boroughs most vulnerable at risk and living on the breadline!

      Then you have the likes of Cllr Blackwell trying to defend the indefensible by his and his cronies “Cull” of essential Council services, is Cllr Blackwell a true “Mathematician” or a puppet on a string for our overpaid senior officers!

      Each and every elected councilor on Camden Council should be ashamed of themselves for the current situation, NOT once have any of the politcial parties demostrated or shown the people of this borough evidence, as to what they have done to protest and protect peoples homes from the next round of “Tenant Cleansing” because of the cuts to Council Tax and the Benefits system.

      Is Cllr Blackwell and his cronies going to sit tight on the underspend and nest egg, or are they going to do the decent thing and support tenants, which they were duly elected to represent!

      One thing I know, is increasing rents and cutting services is not the answer to your prayers, sooner or later there will be nobody left within our community to vote you in.

      The best thing the people can do is “vote all current councillors out” and start taking legal action against the govenment and the local council for forcing us out of our communites with its “Cleansing programme”.

      Mr Angry

      • Money Penny // July 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm //

        Labour party leaflets delivered in Kentish Town over the weekend which include the caption: ‘Government Hits Poor in Kentish Town’. The leaflet goes on to say that over 1000 of the poorest families in Kentish Town ward may be forced to pay council tax as the government withdraws support for the least well off families’.

        A quote by Kentish Town ward Cllr Jenny Headlam Wells goes onto sympathise with these families and quite rightly targets the blame at the Tory / Lib Dem government.

        Sadly, what seems to be lacking in the leaflet though is any firm resistance to the plans. No talk of emergency sessions at the Town Hall to discuss this latest attack against the borough’s poorest, no fighting talk, which is maybe what some of us would like to see coming from our opposition politicians.

        How about a legal action? The council have rightly looked at the option in relation to the government’s HS2 proposals, so why not in this case? The question is worth asking of our politicians!

        These plans – if introduced – will affect families not only in Kentish Town, but all over Camden – Camden Town, Holborn, Hampstead and Gospel Oak.

        Many residents who received the leaflet over the weekend will now be left wondering whether they and their families will be able to remain in Camden beyond 2013!

        Does it seem unreasonable to expect more on behalf of some of the families in this borough?

        Money Penny

        • Dear Money Penny

          Thank you for enlightening us to the latest news from the Town Hall in relation to the “Planned Tenant Cleansing ” of our communities.

          It appears our Labour Councillor Jenny Headlam – Wells has been delegated the task of being the bearer of “DOOM and GLOOM” ! Ironic really when you think Labour claims that it is a party that supports the working class and those not so fortunate to have the cash to splash!

          I would have to concur with you, not once does the leaflet offer any hope to our less well off tenants, who through no fault of their own rely on the benefits system merely to survive! What does the future hold for those not in a position to afford Camden Council Rents or the over priced C/Tax, which offers little or nothing in return, because most of these services our public money funds, have already been chewed to the bone by Cllr Blackwell and Co!

          The Labour Administration should be ashamed of itself, as equally should all the other political parties that have sat back on their backsides and endorsed this “Community Cleansing Programme” that has been inflicted on us by the imbeciles that call themselves a Central Government, then you have the wannabe councillor lunatics trying their hand at politics within Camden!!!!

          It seems our Labour Administration buddies are more interested in playing Russian Roulette with our public funds with the HS2 and Lego bricks with the new Civic centre costing over £100 Million plus, instead of fighting Government policy for those at risk of being kicked out of our Borough!

          The question that needs to be answered is where is the Cabinet Member for Housing or is it the “Grim Reaper” these days Julian, wherever you are come out and face the music, along with the Leader of Camden Council Cllr Hayward.

          Hopefully the good people of this borough will see past the false smiles and invoke a “No Vote of Confidence” in all our Camden politcians, equally people should start legal litigation against both Camden and the Government and tie them up in the courts both here and the European courts for years to come, for endorsing such an unethical cleansing programme against the poor of this borough.

          Ps Money Penny give my best to James when he is next in town.

          Mr Angry

          • Money Penny // July 31, 2012 at 12:49 am //

            Interesting to read Kentish Town ward Cllr Meric Apak’s e-mail to constituents this evening about his campaign to scrap the Welfare Reform Act!

            People urged to sign his (Cllr Apak’s) e-mail petition and to have their say on the issue.

            http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36263

            Cllr Apak goes on to say:’If my petition receives 100,000 signatures by this time next year, it will be considered for debate by MP’s in the House of Commons’.

            Can’t help but feel that all Cllrs will need to move a bit quicker on this one! The seriousness of the situation would indeed warrent an emergency session at Camden Town Hall, or at the very least the release of a joint statement by the leadership giving details of how party members (and not just the citizens of the borough!) intend to resist the proposals!

            Only time will will tell?

            Money Penny

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