Let’s Blow The Reserves Comrades – After All, It Is An Election Year

WITH AN IMPENDING LOCAL ELECTION and constant criticism about their performance, you would think that the Canvey Island Independence Party would take the opportunity of regaling residents over what it would be like to have a CIIP majority in the borough council chamber. Few other parties can point to the existence of a local Town Council, composed almost entirely of CIIP members, from which residents can take their cue. But it seems that the party is leaving its announcements of what it has planned for the island until after the forthcoming elections.

Visitors to the Town Council’s Website will have realised that it is no longer kept up-to-date with the latest TC news (as was the case under Julie Abel). Its ‘latest news’ is a tiny two-liner dating back to October last year when the Town Council was a finalist in the Leisure and Tourism category of the Newsquest Business Awards. (Had they spent more on their advertising with the Echo, perhaps they would have received an award).

Town Council announcements now seem confined to its home page, where there is presently two .jpeg poster scans: one for a ‘Wildlife Event’ on Sat 22nd May (where it has joined forces with the RSPB to promote the Conservative majority’s successful conclusion to its project of opening West Canvey’s Marsh to the public); and another, which only some residents will be able to attend, concerning a ‘Night of Nostalgia,’ to be held at the Paddocks on 26th June, featuring two low-budget acts from the club circuit (the Rat Pack and Irresistible) – with tickets at £7.50 each. The latter’s publicity provides no details about where the proceeds are aimed.

So is the Town Council moving into the entertainment business? Well, that particular question must remain unanswered. But what can be told is that the TC’s spending ambitions for 2010/11 have risen from a reserve-call budget of £335,800 (published in its 2009/10 budget) to a whopping draft expenditure of £489,400.

The amount of the increase was contained in the Policy & Finance Minutes 4th January 2010. (The same minutes, incidentally, which provide a valuable insight into the confused way in which the Town Council is ‘administered’).

So, in the Town Council’s election year, it will spend over £200,000 more than its annual precept (and leave little in reserve for any new administration).

Despite knowing the figure, the Town Council has not published its 2010/11 budget on its Website. But it is interesting to compare those that precede it – in an attempt to identify where islanders’ Council Tax Levy might be being directed.

In its 2009 budget, the TC made clear that some additional expenditure had been earmarked for 2010.

  • A third increase in staff salaries (from £62,846 to £90,000)
  • A doubling of election expenses (from £5,500 to £10,000)
  • A quadrupling of members’ training (from £500 to £2,000)
  • Another third increase in room hire (from £1,518 to £2,000)
  • The Open Spaces policy and project development costs were increased fifty-eight-fold (from £171 to £10,000)
  • Allotment costs were increased ten-fold (from £150 to £1,500)
  • New expenditure was earmarked for Canvey Lake; Bumblebee Park; Skateboard Park/Bungalow; and Seafront gardens – at a cost of £69,000.
  • The street-light budget went up from £9,000 to £15,000
  • High-street planters went up thirteen-fold (from £885 to £12,000)
  • A new line appeared for ‘Environment and Conservation Eve’ – at a cost of £5,000.
  • The Community Projects policy and project development black hole also had a ten-fold rise (from £2,332 to £20,000).
  • The Christmas event budget grew from £3,000 to £5,000.
  • Festive lighting more than doubled (from £2,000 to £5,000).
  • A new ‘events’ budget appeared, for £15,000.
  • A new ‘citizenship training’ – cost: £5,000.
  • Similarly a new ‘Town directory’ – cost: £5,000.
  • And a new line for ‘Bus shelter renewal’ was introduced for a further £5,000.

Overall, the original 2010 budget exceeded the previous year’s by £61,450 and called upon £59,362 of precious reserves. But that intention has now been exceeded by the TC’s revelation that it will spend an extra £153,600 – taking its 2010 expenditure to over 78% more than its 2009 forecasts.

As previously explained, the increase was announced at the beginning of January, leaving one to conclude that it has nothing to do with the Concord pool issue. And, according to those minutes, the Town Council would, despite its increases, still have £160,000 in reserve.

Therefore, it can still afford to take-over the pool and renew it for islanders; but it will not leave much in its coffers for a new administration, should there be one, in 2011.

In the meantime, islanders may wish to ask, of their CIIP candidates and doorstep activists this year: ‘Just what are you going to spend all our money on?’

Answers on a postcard, please – or just leave a comment on this post…

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One Response

  1. So far our street has had no opportunity to question “independent” candidates Ted, but i wonder if that increased budget has anything to do with the “fantastic projects” mentioned on the CIIPs blog?

    http://blog.canveyislandindependentparty.org.uk/blog/?p=30

    If so then I am somewhat bemused – because this is their party blog – not the Town Councils. It is rather like Spink’s claim to having been responsible for introducing ASBOs because he voted for the motion in the house.

    What worries me is that if the CIIP cannot distinguish the line between party and Town Council, then maybe it cannot distinguish between the TCs precept and party funds.

    What is that huge increase in salaries all about?

    Why is it necessary to double election expenses?

    And why is it necessary to make such huge increases to those project and development cost lines which as I understand it only reflects costs incurred by committee members?

    And why hasn’t the CIIP filed its accounts for last year?

    Judging by those minutes you link to [http://www.canveyisland-tc.gov.uk%2F2009-2010pdf%2Fminutes-policy040110.pdf], the TC’s audit report should provide very interesting reading this year

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