Cannibalism and Figure Fiddling Shock
Tongue in cheek revelations from Labour following 'state of borough' debate
Labour are dining out on Conservative Finance chief, Cllr David Scott's statement that he would rather 'chew my own leg off' than meet the leader of the opposition Labour Group to go through budget saving ideas.
The reluctance of the Conservatives to work with Labour to see where savings could be made was aired at a lively Council debate on 17 June. The Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, Cllr Julian Bell, has slammed the refusal, saying:
“It is outrageous that the Tories are planning year on year tax increases and refusing point blank to consider any suggestion that the council tax should be cut. Some £1.6 million in savings were found last year by looking a little more closely at what the Council spends – a similar exercise this year could help identify more savings”, said Cllr Bell.
“The Conservatives would rather score petty party political points about Labour administrations in the past than look at what they have in front of them. There is an opportunity to cut the council tax and if we can find the necessary savings without harming frontline services we should take it. The Tories are out of touch and their plan to continue raising the council tax year on year simply cannot be afforded by many hard pressed residents,” said Cllr Bell.
And after a night of much finger pointing, Ealing Council's Chief Executive, Darra Singh, has demanded that Council staff pull out theirs. The demand comes in response to a backbench Labour member exposing what he claims are attempts to fiddle the Council’s performance figures.
Cllr Tejinder Dhami, who represents Dormers Wells ward, claimed to have spotted that some of the performance figures showing improvements under the Tories were being ‘sexed up’.
Members of the Council highlighted cases of what a Labour spokesperson calls: "harrowing cases of rudeness and neglect where vulnerable residents across the Borough have failed to get a response from the Council let alone the service they needed." It included the case of Pierce, a wheel chair bound resident left to fend for himself in a flat up 15 steps, where he couldn’t get to the bathroom and lost weight because he was unable to get enough to eat. Cllr Patricia Walker (North Greenford) talked about the understaffed park ranger service and Ealing Central Library's prolonged closure.
“When I saw the Conservatives claiming that 97% of enquiries and 90.5% of complaints were being resolved within 10 working days I could not believe my eyes," said Cllr Dhami. "If it were not so totally ridiculous it would be a barefaced lie. Almost every member of the public I meet tells me how tough it is to get a straight answer out of the Council, how long they have to wait before staff pick up the phone and how frustrating it is to deal with council departments such as parking, planning and social services – nobody answers the phone, too little gets done.”
In response to the meeting Mr Singh has since sent an email to all council officers telling them to pull their finger out. The email says the widespread practice of sending back a reply saying ‘your enquiry has been received and is being dealt with’ is not acceptable. And in it he warns staff that any breeches of the proper procedure will be fully investigated by his office.
June 19, 2008