Monthly column: The public need to know the truth, not be misled by spin

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Leader of the Bedford Labour Group, Cllr Carl Meader. Image: Bedford Labour Group

In his column for the Bedford Independent last week, Mayor Tom Wootton repeated his claim that by making amendments to the Tories’ proposed £53m spending plans, the opposition parties on the council have stopped all of the projects from happening.

This is simply untrue.

Making statements that are untrue, and spreading those claims on social media can be dangerous, and insults the intelligence of residents of the Borough.

To be clear, Labour councillors did not vote against the projects. All the amendment did was ask for fully costed, detailed business cases for each of the proposed projects to be presented to and be voted on at Full Council.

It is our duty on behalf of residents to scrutinise the spending of the Executive, not just leave them unchecked, as it is Council Tax payers who will have to repay the £53m loan with interest for years to come.

Therefore, all councillors need to see that the proposed borrowing will actually result in these plans coming to fruition; that the sums proposed won’t spiral out of control if projects go ahead. We don’t want Bedford Borough to join the numerous councils across the country who have had to issue Section 114 bankruptcy notices because of any rash decisions by the entirely Tory executive.

All of the proposed projects sound enticing, and we are supportive of many of them in principle, and look forward to learning more about them and how they will proceed. 

All councillors should see and have a vote on each business case with details of the project and see a precise budget and not the generic one which is what has been outlined so far.

Labour councillors want the opportunity to vote in favour of funding for the Kempston Health Hub, Muslim Cemetery, and regeneration of the town centres as we have campaigned for these projects for a long time. We look forward to them happening. We are in favour of sensible capital spending for these and other possible socially beneficial projects.

Due to thirteen years of harsh cuts to Local Authority funding and a steep increase in costs and demand for council services, the budget of the council has to be very carefully managed.

It would be irresponsible for the Council to take out massive loans for projects that do not have a business case, that may not work or are later found unnecessary. Repayments with interest on the Tory’s loans could lead to further pressure on the council budget, with cuts to services that are already pared to the bone, or increases in Council Tax as a result.

So, Tom, please stop your spin and misinformation.

It either discredits you for perpetuating untruths or, even worse, shows you don’t understand basic council procedures.

This is a monthly guest column provided by Cllr Carl Meader, leader of the Bedford Labour Group.
It is published unedited and does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.