Following years of financial mismanagement at the council, which left us with no reserves to meet the challenge of Covid, the Borough has entered a spiral of decline.
Each year, the council is having to make cut after cut after cut just to stave off bankruptcy. The council’s medium-term financial plan demonstrates this with cuts this year, next year, the year after and beyond
We need a change in approach to avoid this slice slice slice going on for ever until there is no council there.
My fear is that the Conservatives are following their ideology of a “small council”, and doing what they can to remove the council from the community.
As Lib Dems, we have proposed a new direction to end this spiral of decline and look to a future of reinvesting in our communities.
Firstly, research over the last few years has demonstrated that in-sourcing actually both saves money and improves services. This wasn’t necessarily true 10, 20 or 30 years ago, but now local government is as efficient as business — and we don’t have to give council tax money to shareholders.
Secondly, we need to be turning our assets into revenue-raising assets, like social housing and renewable energy, rather than following the council’s approach of just selling them off cheap.
Thirdly we are just giving away money to developers by not charging CIL in Maidenhead Town Centre where a huge amount of development is going on. One report I saw said that with the Nicholsons Development, we have sacrificed something like £16 million.
Lastly, we should be looking at providing services for other councils and organisations, at a profit — something we used to do.
Without an alternative strategy, the council is going to continue a spiral of decline which will lead to effective bankruptcy — but sadly, the Conservatives refuse to listen.
Simon Werner – Leader of the Opposition