The new Labour Council Administration in Southampton is in total chaos. Labour were due this week to publish their budget for the coming year but at the eleventh hour have delayed the announcement by a month.
Just days after agreeing £2.8M of pay rises for council staff, Labour have admitted that they have no idea how they are going to pay for it and balance the books next year.
Since May Labour have failed to get to grips with the difficult finances of the city council. They have wasted months taking time off for holidays, arguing with themselves and focusing on minutiae. Now they have run out of time and their lack of a credible plan for the city is being exposed.
The first action taken by Labour was to reward themselves on their election victory with extra paid councillor jobs and chairmanships, spending money the city couldn’t afford. They then axed the developing partnership arrangement with the Isle of Wight, an arrangement which would have allowed the city and the island to merge more functions, protecting services at a time when there is considerably less money than before.
At the last full council meeting Labour again refused to consider selling off a small proportion of the council’s huge art collection to provide funds to invest in and protect services.
Labour’s lack of a plan, its sordid pay deal with the union bosses that funded their election campaign, its tearing up of council partnership arrangements, its refusal to consider options like art sales, all mean one thing; Labour are heading for a financial crisis which will see services axed, hundreds of jobs cut and fees and charges for local residents and businesses go through the roof.
There will be more broken promises. Labour as always will seek to blame someone else; the government or the last Conservative council Administration. However they have no one else but to blame but themselves.