Tag: Kev


There appears to be a difference of opinion in the local red nest on whether or not Swindon Borough Council should dip into its reserves to keep council tax down. On the one hand, there’s the Snelgrovian view, expressed last November, that it’s good to spend some reserves to keep council tax low.

I don’t know how much Swindon Council has in reserves but I do know that the council needs to be thinking how it can do this [cut council tax]…. We all have to make sure that people are helped so I think that Swindon Council should be looking at its capital reserves and seeing if it can do something even if it is a one-off.

Then there’s the view of Mr Small, adamant that use of reserves is a bad thing.

There seems to be a £1.8m gap between the 3.5 per cent increase and what is needed to balance the budget. Some of that will be paid for with one-off monies. This budget is going to give us a debt of at least £2m because of the use of one-off monies. That will have to be carried over into next year’s budget.

Perhaps Mr Small should give his friend Mr Brown some advice about keeping out of debt.

Cheapening democracy

It’s so nice to see Mr Small and the local red nest putting their electoral convenience before the interests of the people they represent. As first reported on the TalkSwindon forum, Mr Thompson has been in living in Spain since January and hasn’t attended a council meeting since July last year. You’d think that if you’re too ill to represent your people, the best thing to do, for both councillor and those they represent, would be to resign and rest in the hope of making a quick recovery. Apparently not, according to Mr Small.

There is no secrecy about the fact that Barrie is going to resign. I would expect him to step down by around mid-March. We want to save the council taxpayers extra expense by not calling a by-election.

What carefully chosen words. There was plenty of secrecy: there is no secrecy now only because others have revealed what is going on. I also don’t recall the red nest having such a level of concern for taxpayers in the past when members of their own party flew the nest to the opposing side. It’s difficult to see this as anything other than political self-interest masquerading as concern for the people.

Stagnantly improving

I find it rather puzzling that Mr Small can convert the Audit Commission’s recentcomprehensive performance assessment’ that Swindon Borough Council is ‘improving strongly’ into something completely different.

I would also remind Nick Martin of the comments made last week by the chair of the audit commission, who described Swindon as a stagnant authority.

I’ve searched the Commission’s whole report for the word ‘stagnant’ — it’s not used once. If the chair of the Commission spoke these words, they seem not to have been recorded. The only mention I can find of Swindon being a ‘stagnant authority’ is Mr Small’s.

The leader of the red nest seems to have forgotten that, when his group were in charge, the council was, by the Audit Commission’s analysis, one of the worst performing councils in the country.

The only thing that seems stagnant in all of this is Mr Small’s contribution to political debate.

Quiet losses

The announcement yesterday of a reduction of 200 posts at Swindon Borough Council has received very little comment beyond the Adver and BBC articles that carried the story, and rightly so. Two hundred out of 4,500 jobs is less than 4.5%. Even if everyone worked from the age of eighteen to retirement without ever changing jobs, natural wastage in one year from just retirements would be almost 2.4% In the modern world where, even in the public sector, a ‘job for life’ is very much a thing of the past, unless these reductions are very concentrated it is difficult to see that there would be any need for compulsory redundancies. So Mr Small’s comment

I would be very surprised if they managed to shed these jobs with voluntary redundancies.

seems to be a very bad case of crying wolf. As for the comments of Ms Snelgrove, well where to start.

I am deeply disturbed that so many hard-working members of staff are threatened with redundancy and I question how the council can be more efficient by cutting jobs.

Well, no actually the council have said they will look at ‘remov[ing] posts which are currently vacant, and reduce the numbers of short-term contract staff.’ Redundancy is never pleasant for anyone (and having once worked for a company that shed 70% of its staff in one year I speak from personal experience), but this is more a case of ‘so few’ rather than ‘so many’. Ms Snelgrove also seems to have an over-inflated view of her own importance.

I am extremely surprised at this and there has been no discussion with the town’s MPs.

I can think of no reason why there should have been. For once, in comparison, Mr Wills’ comments seem quite rational!