City Hall chiefs fear Brexit will hit council funds, leaked documents reveal
Council leader tells Labour rivals to 'get some therapy'
03 March, 2017 — By Tom Foot
Council leader Nickie Aiken
LEAKED documents have revealed how council chiefs fear a Brexit financial crash could devastate their coffers.
Minutes of a “seminar” between top-ranking councillors reveal fears over an “economic downturn”.
Funds could be “hit” when Article 50 is triggered, the minutes add. The leak came before Wednesday’s meeting in Porchester Hall where Westminster Council rubber-stamped a budget with £47million of swingeing cuts for 2017/2018 and a council tax rise of 3.9 per cent.
The leaked papers said: “Recent years’ savings have increased commercial income to the point where we are becoming at risk from any economic downturn… An economic downturn from Article 50 could hit commercial income.”
The documents show that a large chunk of the council’s income is from fees and charges to residents – in total bringing in £126.5million a year – and that the “housing shortfall” and cost of temporary accommodation “will continue to bring cost pressures”.
The cost of an ageing population is “becoming real”, the documents add. Parking fine cameras could be used to bring in more money with proposals to set up 12 new automated cameras.
The documents say “compliance at new locations is likely to be low initially, resulting in the issue of PCNs”, adding: “Cameras will be rotated to other locations as and when safety improvements are observed.” More income can be generated through “minimum stay length for parking transactions” and axing all pest control services.
Labour says the council should consider cutting unnecessary spending like the Lord Mayor’s “second car” – which costs £90,000 to hire each year – and restrict senior council officials’ private health insurance schemes, while axing the The Westminster Reporter magazine, promoting “council news”.
Labour group leader Adam Hug said that Westminster needed to do “much more to lessen the devastating impact of their government’s cuts to public services” and should be “cutting waste and investing unspent money rather having it sit in the bank”.
After the meeting Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg criticised council leader Nickie Aiken’s “extraordinary ranting performance”.
He tweeted: “It reminded me of Shirley Porter in her prime – very very scary.” She replied: “u r obsessed! Porter is ancient history. Everyone has moved on even people of Cavendish ward! Get some therapy.”
Cllr Tim Mitchell, cabinet member for finance, property and corporate services, said: “Despite many challenges, the council continues to excel and deliver high-quality services focusing on meeting the needs of its residents and neighbourhoods.”
He added: “This is as a consequence of effective long-term planning and thinking cleverly about our approach to service delivery. The council is proud of its track record in rising to financial challenges.”