False savings

February 07, 2011 11:09 AM

I received a blast in the local press from Deputy Leader Councillor Malcolm Hanney as he lectured me in a letter over the benefits of B&NES Council’s capital expenditure. I would, however, have liked a little more flesh on the bones of his account.

When it comes to the £12.4 million rebuilding of Keynsham townhall, he claims the efficiencies that result will deliver 10 per cent savings. But how much exactly is that in cash? In fact, according to B&NES own figures, the estimated saving at Keynsham is £400,000 a year—so that will take just 31 years to recoup from the original building cost (excluding any other factors of course.)

Still, it could be worse. In neighbouring Dorset, a similar scheme of £13.1 million to build new council offices in Dorchester will, apparently, save the council £200,000 a year—but it will take up to 50 years to recoup that! Local residents are up in arms as this capital expenditure is to be matched by £31.1 million in cuts to services, including closing 20 libraries. A local poll showed that over 2000 to 156 Dorchester citizens would rather see the brand new council offices axed instead.

In Bath, Cllr Hanney talks about an ‘ambitious but fully funded £200 million capital investment programme’ as though it is money just sitting in their coffers—but in fact it is our money! If B&NES councillors really cared about our residents, they would use that money to cut the council tax, not just freeze it, and help us pay the rising fuel bills we all face.

B&NES is, by far, the biggest landlord in the city, holding on to 1200 properties worth over half a billion pounds. In previous times, as the Bath Chronicle told us last week, the rent from these properties meant residents didn’t have to pay anything towards their services. Can we not return to this golden age?

Instead, we are faced with councillors telling us they know better how to spend our money: on traffic schemes no one wants, on public areas we could do without, and on hotels and restaurants that local businessmen don’t want. To be honest, I think Cllr Hanney and his highly paid colleagues have got a little too grand in their Guildhall and should concentrate on the fundamentals of delivering our vital frontline services for less money.

Tim Newark, Bath & South West TaxPayers’ AllianceI received a blast in the local press from Deputy Leader Councillor Malcolm Hanney as he lectured me in a letter over the benefits of B&NES Council’s capital expenditure. I would, however, have liked a little more flesh on the bones of his account.

When it comes to the £12.4 million rebuilding of Keynsham townhall, he claims the efficiencies that result will deliver 10 per cent savings. But how much exactly is that in cash? In fact, according to B&NES own figures, the estimated saving at Keynsham is £400,000 a year—so that will take just 31 years to recoup from the original building cost (excluding any other factors of course.)

Still, it could be worse. In neighbouring Dorset, a similar scheme of £13.1 million to build new council offices in Dorchester will, apparently, save the council £200,000 a year—but it will take up to 50 years to recoup that! Local residents are up in arms as this capital expenditure is to be matched by £31.1 million in cuts to services, including closing 20 libraries. A local poll showed that over 2000 to 156 Dorchester citizens would rather see the brand new council offices axed instead.

In Bath, Cllr Hanney talks about an ‘ambitious but fully funded £200 million capital investment programme’ as though it is money just sitting in their coffers—but in fact it is our money! If B&NES councillors really cared about our residents, they would use that money to cut the council tax, not just freeze it, and help us pay the rising fuel bills we all face.

B&NES is, by far, the biggest landlord in the city, holding on to 1200 properties worth over half a billion pounds. In previous times, as the Bath Chronicle told us last week, the rent from these properties meant residents didn’t have to pay anything towards their services. Can we not return to this golden age?

Instead, we are faced with councillors telling us they know better how to spend our money: on traffic schemes no one wants, on public areas we could do without, and on hotels and restaurants that local businessmen don’t want. To be honest, I think Cllr Hanney and his highly paid colleagues have got a little too grand in their Guildhall and should concentrate on the fundamentals of delivering our vital frontline services for less money.

Tim Newark, Bath & South West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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