Is Iain Dale really praising a Council which has cut so many services ?

It is interesting to note Iain Dale's blog today extolling the virtues of a Tory Council (Hammersmith and Fulham), praising them for cutting council tax by 3% and asking why other councils cannot do this.

Perhaps the answer lies with the methods they use in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Take, for example, the council's view on community groups that use council buildings. They are, according to Hammersmith and Fulham Council not really that important. After all, they are not businesses, I guess they do not work on the basis of market forces, therefore, there existence and survival is of little concern. That is why Hammersmith and Fulham sold off buildings owned by the council that were used by local community groups. Yes, a cost saving was gained by the council, but at what cost to the voluntary and community groups ?

But there is more too. The Tories have also, since taking charge of H & F Council taken over £1 million out of the Council’s savings, closed a secondary school, and along with a number of other Tory councils have slashed the home help and meals-on wheels services..

But don't worry, council tax is down 3%.

Did I mention that road sweeping budgets have also gone down by £500, 000 cut street cleaning by more than £500,000.

Don;t worry, council tax is down 3%.

Of course that is of no benefit if you die in Hammersmith and Fulham because the Tories introduced increased burial cost for local people by almost 50%.

Ah, but it is not much better if you are alive and want a home. The Tory Council cancelled 500 affordable homes.

But as Iain point out, you can achieve a 3% cut in council tax. As long, it appears, as you put up charges, close things, sell things off and raid your council reserves.

One Labour activist goes on the attack about last year's budget HERE, but if you believe him or the Tory view, and it is interesting to note that the Tory refers to miserly council tax increases, the truth is that H&F Council received one of the most generous government grant increases of any London Borough last year, there has clearly been a policy of increased charges, costs and sell offs.

Iain, you may hail this as good news. I would suggest voluntary groups, first time buyers, and a host of others would disagree.


Alan said...

I wonder if your Liberal Council in Norfolk North tried it I wonder if Iain Dale would have been so generous as to offer you such fulsome praise.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Many of these charges have been extensively rebutted already:

Norfolk Blogger said...

Matthew. I have tried to be fair and offered both sides of the argument, although I have to doubt if the Tories would ahve been so fair if it were a Lib Dem council slashing services.

Matthew Sinclair said...

I don't see both sides of the argument in your post. H & F council, hardly marginal players in this debate, argue that they haven't been cutting services but have actually put a lot into front-line services and cut waste, increased efficiency. That is backed up by their high star rating for service quality.

Their argument (including a rebuttal of the idea they've received a generous settlement from national government) is set out in some detail in the link I included in my last comment. You misrepresent it as the straw man of "cut taxes and to hell with the services". No one from H & F has made that argument.

Norfolk Blogger said...

The fact is that their settle ment was better than the London average.

I will admit that I am biased and do not support the council cuts, but unlike certain bloggers, I did offer the alternative point of view and therefore offered some balance by linking directly to a Tory Councillor on H&F council who has a blog and has written about this. I am sure it was in my original posting.

I wonder how many Tory bloggers would offer this "balance" ?

Matthew Sinclair said...

On the average London settlement versus H & F's, are you saying that they're just lying in the post I sent you?

I never accused you of suppresing H & F's side of the argument. However, I do think you've misrepresented it here.

mhuntbach said...

There are several LibDem bloggers who hold to the view that cutting taxes is at the heart of what liberalism should be about. They ought surely to be singing the praises of this council, and its "rolling back the frontiers of the (local) state".

Why after all should the local state own buildings for use by local community groups? Isn't this oppressive authoritarianism, and it is far more liberal that local community groups should own their own buildings, or hire them from whomever they want, or whatever?

And state home helps and meals on wheels? Shouldn't our economic liberal friends be cheering on H&F for ending this oppressive forcing onto poor old people of whatever meals and home helps the bureaucrats in the council deem they should have? Far better, surely that the old dears save on council tax and use the money to buy whatever they like.

As for cancelling affordable homes, economic liberals would say the very idea is nonsense - as the market is the most liberal thing there is, any interference in it by trying to force it to provide homes at a particular price rather than what the free hand of the market suggests must surely be illiberal.

Our economic liberal friends insist they are not Tories, because Tories do horrible things like having a fixation on traditional values, biases in favour of old-fashioned family structures and the like. But I don't think I can see anything here from H&F which is the sort of "Tory" thing an economic liberal should object to.

So don't worry, council tax is down by 3%. Isn't that 3% less oppression according to some people who insist they're the best sort of liberals?