Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Cllr Woodley gets personal!

I have already expressed my surprise at Thorpe Independent Party Councillor Ron Woodley's attempts to influence the outcome of the by election in West Leigh by circulating inaccurate and negative leaflets about Conservative policy. This has now been further aggravated by a full page advert which he has taken out in the Leigh Times along the same lines. I still remained amazed at his misinterpretation of the borrowing figures. His message to residents is to the effect that by the end of this year council borrowing will amount to £289M, at a cost to the council tax payer of £19.1M during the current year or 31% of council tax income! At today's cabinet meeting I asked the Council's Head of Finance to clarify these figures once and for all. As I anticipated he confirmed that he expected borrowing to reach £256M by the end of the year (£33M less than Cllr Woodley's figure) but that this included £84.5M by the Housing Revenue Account which is a ring fenced account funded from council rents and used to invest in the council housing stock. Accordingly the general fund borrowing which is the responsibility of the council tax payer is estimated at £172.3M - over £100M less than Cllr Woodley's figure. The cost to the council tax payer during the current year is expected to be £13.6M but ignoring repayment of capital the interest will only be in the region of £6M - rather less than the £19.1M quoted by Cllr Woodley. This interest is payable from the gross revenue budget which for the current year will be over £400M so amounts to 1.5% of relevant income. It would be nice to think that Cllr Woodley would acknowledge that his figures are wrong and misleading but past experience suggests not. In a recent e mail sent to a member of the public but for reasons best known to him also copied to my cabinet colleague Tony Cox as well as his own Leader Cllr Martin Terry Cllr Woodley says "Thank you for alerting me to Blobby's blog, I do not read tripe and only on this occasion have I had a look.All the facts are wrong and I expect nothing else from a blue eyed one colour view. The main point of course is if Holdcroft thinks that the level of debt is affordable no wonder the council is financially insecure and we have to close libraries, care homes and reduce vast number of front line services.Enough said, the guy is an idiot and the 15000 leaflets that I did not print are being delivered by someone who did and appreciates my concerns for the Town. what I did get printed are the ones that were delivered in West Leigh and were printed in Southend, but of course as he doesn't do any of this himself so he would not know. just to make sure he understands I hope he also enjoyed the full colour advert in the Leigh Times. I enclose a copy for you to read and hopefully enjoy and please send to all your e-mail contacts." Oh dear - does this mean that he thinks the Council's Finance Team who have confirmed our figures are also "idiots"! And to think they call us the nasty party. I have no problem is debating the policies and priorities of the Administration and being judged by the residents however this misinformation and negative campaigning can only suggest that the Independents realise that if the there is a proper and adult debate they know that their arguments will not stand up. At least some of the other opposition councillors in the chamber have clear convictions and are prepared to be judged on them

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