SMR Column: Labour making the wrong choices for Manchester

The article that appears in today's SMR was written before Labour's welcome U turn on Withington baths. Congratulations to the @SaveWithyBaths Campaign. But it is proof positive that Labour are making the wrong choices for Manchester.


Manchester’s Labour Party are making the wrong choices in their Council budget. Even though they get £850 per person in grants, compared to £746 per head for Salford and £483 per head for Stockport, they are not spending their money wisely.

Instead of cutting their pet projects and protecting the frontline services, they are doing the opposite.

So £160million is spent doing up the Town Hall. And £12m is spent on new computers, and more well paid lawyers and accountants earning over on £50,000 a year are being taken on. And the Leader’s Chauffeur driven car stays. And they can afford free drinks for footballers and Councillors at an Alicia Keys concert for just under £500k.  And to write off £400,000 owed by other Councils.

And they only collect £92 of every £100 of Council Tax. That equals £52,000,000 owed.

There is £95,000,000 in the Housing Reserves, and £78,000,000 in the General Reserves for rainy days.

Yet front line services are under threat. The baths in Withington, Levenshulme, Miles Platting and on Broadway and the libraries in Burnage, Barlow Moor, Levenshulme, Northenden, New Moston, Miles Platting and Fallowfield could all be saved for £1,688,000.

Yet, unlike Labour run Salford, Labour run Manchester are turning down £1,440,000 which could freeze the Council tax rise at Zero. Labour in Salford think their residents can’t afford a big Council tax increase. Labour in Manchester keep wanting to turn the screw, and put up your Council Tax by nearly 4%.

Before this column is published next Friday, there is a Council Executive meeting.

What has happened in the past two years has followed the same pattern.

First, Labour fiddle the figures to make spending cuts look worse. Then, you cut frontline services. Then, when the community kicks up a stink, you say it’s the Government’s fault. If the community doesn’t believe it, you back down and keep the facilities open.

I think we will have had some Council climb downs before you read this column. Unless, because it is not a Council election year, Labour decide to brazen it out.

This is the third time Labour has done this. In year one, they proposed an extra spend of £30 Million for things like paying more towards a waste levy because our recycling level was so bad, and paying for transport improvements agreed long before this Government came to power. They threatened closure of Levenshulme Baths, the Sure Starts and other front- line services. The community kicked off, and they backtracked.

In year two, they  proposed £50m of extra spending on other projects, and again added them into their  “cuts” figures, And this year, despite the Council admitting that the settlement was “broadly in line” with estimates, they have come up with a claim that more cuts are necessary.

If Labour Manchester collected their Council tax, and took all their grants, and improved the efficiency of their backroom services, they wouldn’t need to close any of these facilities or raise your Council Tax.  They need to make the right choices for Manchester and give Manchester residents the facilities they deserve.

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