Council got sums wrong, a further 201 staff to be axed

At the end of last December Westminster Council cabinet were presented with the prospect of a £5.7 million budget shortfall. But in a cabinet report dated the 17th January 2011 we learn that the shortfall has jumped to £10 million in just over a month.

The report blames a £7 million shortfall partially on having included the Area Based Grant (ABG) figures last month. The ABG is now estimated to fall by £2 million for Westminster. The impact of the Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) is also a contributor to the shortfall.

To compensate for the budget deficit the council are looking to merge the Adult, Children’s and Corporate services with both Hammersmith and Fulham and RB Kensington and Chelsea councils. Although mergers can often cost more to implement than they save, certainly in the short term. As well as the merger the council say they are exploring ‘charging freedoms’, which is a clever way of introducing more stealth taxes with increases in residents parking charges and even new charges for services such as care for the elderly and the disabled. Another opportunity that has not gone unnoticed by the Council is simply raising the bar for those most vulnerable in our society. This can result in either excluding them altogether or making them pay.

It wasn’t that long ago the Council leader Colin Barrow was saying that although times were tight, front line services would be protected. This latest report paints a more honest picture by saying “These decisions will have a direct impact on the services people use”.

Back in August Barrow invited 151 guests made up of MP’s and senior officials to a summer party, saying that costs would be met by savings from the Councils bloated communications department. At the time Westminster’s Labour group leader Paul Dimoldenberg said: “There’s no excuse for this sort of extravagance. The money would be far better spent on front-line services.” It was around that time the public learnt of the secret meetings, where a select few council officers and Councillors were discussing cuts to front line services.

Barrow began appealing for an army of volunteers trying to brush off criticism of the secret meetings by telling everyone they were only to discus ideas. It is such a shame for the residents of Westminster and council employees just how many of those ‘ideas’ have come to fruition.

It is expected the 201 axed staff will be issued notices of redundancy on the 30th of March 2011. There are no published plans to issue redundancy notices to any band 6 or above staff.

Whack-a-mole

It maybe of no surprise that with so much discontent amongst both the staff and the end users of Westminster Council that the flow of unofficial information making its way to Nutsvilles inbox has increased.

This month (a council insider).has told us of the great City Hall mole hunt, which is costing the council a significant amount of money and resources. IT people are combing call logs and Internet traffic in an attempt to track down the phantom mole which senior Council officers believe has been leaking information to Nutsville.

The council could save a lot of money and spend it on much more sensible things rather than trying to stifle the free flow of information to the public.

A photo sent to us this week seems to show that the Council are taking the mole hunt to extremes. The photo shows Council officer Alastair Gilchrist, security staff and senior police officers holding an outdoor meeting about the mole hunt, in fear of their offices having been bugged.

That’s all for now, we have a mole that needs grooming.

Mr Gilchrist I think the mole is behind you now

Mr Gilchrist I think the mole is behind you now

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1 Comment

chalkyJanuary 22nd, 2011 at 11:35 pm

A situation that is predictable as it is sad. Just when will the residents wake up from their comas and vote these tosspots out?

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