Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Knowle relocation project: and facing bankruptcy

The latest version of the plans to relocate to Honiton/Exmouth have been waved through:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Audit and Scrutiny Cttees consider Cabinet proposals: reports

This is despite still-huge questions about the financial viability of the project:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: ‘spend now, pay later’

Much of this is being financed by asset-stripping:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "We’re digging into the opportunities to release assets and invest in assets to increase revenue streams."

Although it is by no means clear that any eventual sale of the Knowle site will 'release' enough:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and ‘undeliverable’ projects

It seems extraordinarily irresponsible, therefore, to be committing to spending millions on a new HQ when the District Council is facing considerable financial difficulties:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: 'fiddling while Rome burns'

This council has had to raise its council tax:
Council tax increase announced for East Devon - Breaking news & sport in East Devon | East Devon24

Along with other councils:
Councils 'at breaking point' due to budget cuts and rising social care bills | Society | The Guardian

The promises of 'devolution' remain empty with no cash to back them up:
EDDC gives green light to devolution deal - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Which is happening across the country:
Metro mayors sound great. But they can’t save local parks and pools | Peter Hetherington | Society | The Guardian

And meanwhile, this council is having to cut back on services:
EDDC’s cut to homeless budget after ‘success story’ - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald
Suez to oversee East Devon three-weekly waste service - letsrecycle.com
Petition launched to protect Branscombe’s public toilets - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

As are other councils:

Councils are facing bankruptcy – is this the end of public service?

Peter Wilby

Struggling to fund libraries, road repairs and social care, local authorities are turning to commercial activity. It’s all part of a neoliberal vision

In 2016, local authorities spent over £1bn on real estate. But what would happen if the property market were to crash?’ Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Monday 6 March 2017

The abiding problem of local government in Britain is that nobody wants to pay for it. When council taxes or business rates go up, outrage inevitably follows, as recent furores demonstrate. When councils try to make money from user charges or parking fines, they are accused of “fleecing” their residents. When they cut rubbish collections, they are blamed for spreading disease and endangering public health.

When they turn to central government for help, they find that, faced with a budget deficit, ministers are furiously cutting grants to local authorities, many of them for services the councils are required to provide according to standards laid down by Whitehall.

Local government, like the NHS, is the victim of a perfect storm: austerity combined with the rising demands of an ageing population have broken the system for financing it. Thanks to cuts in central government grants and Whitehall-imposed prohibitions on raising council tax, councils will spend 22% less on public services in 2016-17than they did in 2009-10. By 2020, they estimate they will be short of £5.8bn, about half of it because of the rising costs of social care. The mayor of Liverpool says the city council could close all its libraries and sports centres, switch off all its street lights and stop all road repairs, street cleaning and park maintenance – and it still wouldn’t be able to balance its budget by the end of the decade.

Councils are facing bankruptcy – is this the end of public service? | Peter Wilby | Opinion | The Guardian

This council is also playing with the property market:
East Devon District Council is setting up its own housing company | Devon Live

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