My Letter in today's Daily Echo regarding Southampton City Council's finances:
Labour Councillor, Simon Letts complains that previous Conservative Council mismanaged the council's finances (Echo Letters 22nd October). In fact the previous Administration delivered a £6.9M revenue under spend in the last municipal year, presented a balanced capital budget and had in place a robust plan for dealing with the financial challenges faced by the council in the years ahead.
On the 11th July at the Full Council meeting, Councillor Letts acknowledged the under spend publicly and extra funds this provided his new Administration. I did say to him then that if he tried to misrepresent the Conservatives' management of the finances that I would remind him of this and what he said in the council meeting and so I am doing so with this letter.
It is very true to say that Southampton City Council faces difficult times financially. The worrying truth is however that Labour came into office with no serious plan to tackle the situation. They immediately set about rewarding themselves with extra paid councillor roles, started spending money on unnecessary pet projects and abandoned the partnership arrangement with the Isle of Wight which would have allowed Southampton to protect services through sharing them with the Island. They have refused to contemplate selling any of the thousands of works of art that the City Council owns, to plug the financial gap, yet are quite willing to axe services like Oaklands swimming pool. Worse still they have spent the last six months arguing and fighting amongst themselves rather than knuckling down and getting to grips with the finances. The result is utter chaos in the Civic Centre and a budget delayed at the eleventh hour. Labour urgently need to get a grip and they need to start being honest with the residents of Southampton.
Cllr Jeremy Moulton, Deputy Leader of Southampton Conservative Group