Fringe Box



Letter: Put Party Differences Aside

Published on: 1 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 1 Aug, 2023

From: Gavin Morgan

In response to: GBC’s Financial Picture – Nowhere Near As Dire As Has Been Painted

All councillors should stop political posturing, give us the facts

The R4GV leader, Cllr Joss Bigmore [Merrow] suggests the Lib Dems are making the financial picture look worse than it is. “Exaggerating the scale of an inherited problem (so those in power can profit from the solution) is one of the oldest political tricks in the book”, he writes.

Last week the council announced the need to manage a £18.5 million budget deficit up to 2027 with a £300 million debt mountain.

Cllr Bigmore accuses the council of focusing on “gross debt without reference to the returns on the assets and the reserves”. However, back in May he seemed to paint an equally bleak picture and made no mention of this £1.1 billion in assets. No wonder the public gets confused, frustrated and lose confidence in councillors. See: I Wish the New Council Good Luck, They’ll Need It!

He wrote in The Dragon, “By 2027, Guildford Borough Council needs to find almost £20 million in budget savings… In February, the Liberal Democrats – alongside a majority of the council – committed to say in July what measures will be needed to balance the books. That means finding over £3 million of budget cuts or extra revenues in the next couple of months…Inevitably,  there will have to be immediate cuts to discretionary services.”

He hinted at the need to close perhaps the museum, Spectrum Centre services, move to fortnight bin collections.

However, Cllr Bigmore made no mention of selling assets to get through the problem. So what is the truth? Who should we believe?

I apologise for only using Cllr Bigmore’s letter as an example because it’s the entire council that is frustrating me. No wonder the Guildford public gets confused and critical. I ask all councillors to put party differences aside. Several of them have said they should, even will,  do this – so do it.

We need you all to work together on this and for goodness sake give us the truth.

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Responses to Letter: Put Party Differences Aside

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 11:38 am

    All this fancy financial talk, well here is an engineer’s summary…

    We have a set of tools which we need for the future (the assets) no matter how bad things are we need to keep tools to keep earning a living.

    We have made some dubious decisions in the past and the credit card is now maxed out.

    So we need to tear up the credit card and pay off all debts. No credit card is free money for the present it’s a millstone for the future.

    In tailoring terms – we need to cut our coat according to our cloth, and there is not enough to make it full length!

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    “Give us the facts.”

    Well said.

    In the article in the link above (I Wish the New Council Good Luck, They’ll Need It!) Cllr Bigmore wrote:-

    ‘And let’s not forget the growing debt mountain around the council’s £0.75 billion capital programme which, whilst not the size of Woking’s, has the potential (due to the sharp increases in interest rates) to force the council to issue a Section 114 notice as a bankrupt authority.’

    £750 million is a rather large figure?! (To put it mildly.) Is it correct?
    Is there really a £750 million capital programme? What will it be spent on?

    Some published and audited accounts would be a start.

  3. Keith Reeves Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    I can see what Jim’s trying to say but his response suggests that all credit (or debt) is a bad thing. Maybe his credit card analogy is more specific? After all, our economic system has operated using credit for centuries. Borrowing to invest in infrastructure, say leads to a rise of consumption and investments, creates jobs and leads to a growth of both income and profit. However, if the borrowing is to cover basic council services, then something has gone badly wrong locally and/or nationally.

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