Slough Express

Conservati­ves Labour


Candidates for the Slough Conservati­ves are standing under the banner of ‘kick out the councillor­s who bankrupted your council’ following the recent financial turmoil.

The past year has seen the Labour-run local authority embroiled in financial difficulti­es.

In July the council had to ban all non-essential spending by issuing a Section 114 notice.

The local authority is now aiming to sell £600 million worth of its council-owned land and buildings to help pay off its spiralling borrowing costs.

The Slough Conservati­ves currently has five elected councillor­s and will be contesting every seat at the upcoming election.

The opposition group said It wants to ‘save’ the council’s front-line services by eliminatin­g waste and inefficien­cies.

It is also opposed to the planned rise in council tax for the current financial year and is targeting the sale of Slough Borough Council’s multi-million pound headquarte­rs in Windsor Road.

Last month, Conservati­ve councillor­s clashed with the ruling Labour administra­tion over its 2022/23 budget with Tory leader Dexter Smith describing it as a ‘leap in the dark’.

He said the goal of trying to find approximat­ely £140 million in cuts by 2029 sounded like ‘Mission Impossible’ and said the borough’s most vulnerable residents would be hit hardest by tax rises.

A statement said: “Labour are in denial about the council bankruptcy last year - the council leader didn't even mention it in his letter which came with your council tax demand, although he mentioned coronaviru­s numerous times.

“The Conservati­ves don't have any pet projects and ivory towers to defend.

“We would start by selling the council's new £50 million luxury HQ instead of leasing out three of the five floors as they now propose.”

The statement added: “A third of Slough Council's income goes in paying for Labour's borrowing at UK record levels.

“Slough Labour plan to cut £20m from the council budget each year until 2029, impacting on local services like adult social care and bin collection­s.”

Slough’s ruling Labour group has outlined a 12-point plan of priorities for the coming year which include ‘providing the best quality core service the council can afford.’

Council leader James Swindelhur­st told cabinet colleagues last month the local authority is ‘working as hard as it possibly can’ to resolve Slough’s dire financial situation.

But the path ahead remains ominous with the council needing to pay off £760million of borrowing costs with the local authority requiring a capitalisa­tion directive from the Government to sell its land and buildings to pay for the delivery of services.

Government-appointed commission­ers are also still in place to help Slough rectify its finances.

The Labour group’s election priorities include providing the best value for money for taxpayers and balancing the council’s forward budget.

A commitment has been made to provide services which keep Slough’s most vulnerable residents healthy and ensuring the borough’s public spaces and parks are safe and clean.

Labour said it wants to work with Thames Valley Police and residents’ groups to improve neighbourh­ood safety.

It also wants to work with neighbourh­ood watch groups to tackle anti-social behaviour.

A pledge has been made to recruit more staff and shorten the time taken for customer services calls to be answered at the council.

WiFi connectivi­ty will also be improved in the town centre and the ruling Labour Group has pledged to help social housing tenants get access to faster broadband.

Labour said it remains committed to promoting sustainabl­e transport and wants to introduce more cycling paths and walkways in the borough.

The ruling political group added it will work to reduce inequality and poverty in the borough which it says has been worsened by the impact of the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Labour is looking to help Slough residents find the jobs they need by co-ordinating skills and training events and introducin­g more job fairs in the town.

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