The Conservatives took over control of BCP Council in October 2019. The Leader, Councillor Drew Mellor is by trade a Venture Capitalist. He chose to be both Leader of the Council, and Financial Portfolio holder. These are usually the two biggest roles in the Council Administration, each a pretty full time commitment.
He has chosen to
a) borrow from the past, raiding the financial reserves,
b) take from the present, cutting important services without consultation and significantly increasing fees and charges
c) grab from the future, increasing the indebtedness of the council, and future interest payments, including deferring early payments resulting in interest being paid on interest.
This is hugely reckless, and has brought our Council under great scrutiny from the Department for Local Government.
Whilst we are not the Authority with the highest debt in the country, the application of these funds has not been strategic, and borders on the frivolous. A Peer Review highlighted the need to increase our balance of reserves following recent spending shocks through Covid, Brexit and the Energy crisis.
The Conservatives claim to have balanced the books, which they have only achieved by freezing expenditure in many departments, leaving the staff we pay to run services impotent to develop and enhance services, or even to continue to serve our residents well.
And their biggest scheme of all, to refinance the income from beach huts, was described by a Conservative Minister of State a Dodgy deal, which Government had attempted to dissuade them from pursuing, but ended up having to change the legislation to prevent. Councillor Mellor resisted all advice, and seems oblivious to the criticism, and now is intent on significantly increasing costs of services, rental for those beach-huts being a prime target.