Three months into the latest Labour leadership of the council and the financial cracks are beginning to show. First we had the announcement of a £5m overspend on the new Redland Green School, blame for which is still a matter of speculation although rest assured it’s us that’s got to pay.
Then we have the small matter of the overspending going on in adult care services while lame duck social services boss, Peter Hammond, prevaricates over crucial decisions on the future of the home care service and the council’s care homes. Decisions on both should have been taken in May. Hammond currently has the autumn pencilled in as decision time now, almost six months of unplanned expenditure later than expected.
Now we find that officers have blackmailed a further £2m – not budgeted for – out of the Labour cabinet for the proposed Hengrove Park development or the so-called “Healthplex”.
Last month’s cabinet meeting was told by senior officers – who shoved the documentation under the cabinet’s noses at the last minute to prevent any proper scrutiny taking place – that the whole project was “at risk” if £2m was not forthcoming from the council immediately. This money is now needed prior to any income from the land sales that were always supposed to cover the council’s commitment to a project that is meant to be a partnership with the SWRDA and the private sector.
Needless to say Labour Party bosses paid up. Although whether we’ll ever get this money back is a matter of debate. The best officers could say was that “a large part of the infrastructure costs MAY be recoverable from the SWRDA” and “it is ANTICIPATED that APPROXIAMATELY 50% of the cost will be covered by external funding”.
How delightfully vague. How delightfully Labour in Bristol. Already overspent by £7m and counting…