Still no re­port on short­fall

Sale & Altrincham Advertiser - - POLITICS - Leader of Traf­ford Labour Group Leader of Withing­ton Labour Group

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

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