Still no report on shortfall
APRIL 8 marks an unwelcome anniversary for Trafford’s Tories, with 12 months having passed since the Conservative executive were told of a significant shortfall in the council budget.
Withholding this information from the electorate until after the 2014 local elections, the Tories’ initial claims were of a shortfall of six figures for the year.
As time went on, it became clear that this estimate was far short of the actual figure, with £3m then £6m being quoted as the true amount. Eventually the black hole in the council’s budget was revealed to be almost £7m and savage mid-year cuts were made, primarily targeted at older and more vulnerable people.
An investigation was immediately launched looking at all aspects of how this shortfall had occurred, and pledging to leave no stone unturned.
The Tory council leader promised to release the subsequent report as quickly as possible, and rightly so. However, as we close in on 12 months since his executive was first informed of the problem, that report has still never been seen the light of day.
Once again the electorate face going to the ballot box for a second time with the truth about what has happened still to enter the public domain, and, even if the report were to be released in April restrictions surrounding pre-election purdah would stifle full coverage of the issue. I think this is an absolute disgrace.
When mistakes are made local residents have a right to know what has happened, and to draw their own conclusions.
When those mistakes amount to almost £7 million, that right is absolutely critical. If Trafford’s Tories cared at all for the basic principles of openness, accountability and transparency, they’d have ensured this report was released a long time ago. IN last week’s Budget George Osborne spent an hour telling Britain we’ve never had it so good.
But this doesn’t ring true with the average family - £1,127 a year worse off since the last election. Or with young people, priced out of housing and higher education. Or with the people waiting endless hours in A&E, due to the damage this Lib DemTory government has done to the NHS.
I mention the NHS because the Chancellor didn’t. Why? Because if the Tories are re-elected they will inevitably cut