Borough's parks open for business

By Giles Broadbent on March 1, 2012 11:52 AM |

snowdon.jpg

The executive mayor of Tower Hamlets has put up a For Rent sign on the borough's parks in an effort to fill a black hole in the council's budget.

Despite concern from residents near Millwall Park and a motion from councillors urging a re-think, the mayor swept aside protests and pushed through the revenue raiser without debate.

Already slated to raise £200,000 in this financial year, the ruling executive wants to wring a further £90,000 in 2013/14 from weddings and corporate events.

The Conservative finance spokesman and Millwall councillor David Snowdon said: "The community is opposed to events in the parks, the users are opposed to them, everybody is opposed to them except the mayor who is trying to get a quick buck. I favour no events and no revenue from them."

The independent mayor agreed to a number of unfunded amendments to his budget from his former partners in the Labour party but accepted nothing from the Tories.

Cllr Snowdon said: "We found a way to save £120,000 a year from the senior staffing budget, we found £92,500 from the advertising budget. We wanted to abolish the mayor's £1,000 a day consultant and, most unbelievably of all, spending £22,000 on watering pot plants, £4,000 a year more than last year."

He added: "My biggest worry, aside from the inconvenience to residents, is what is going to happen for the sports teams. If you are having events on parks, there will be various glassware involved. I would not want to play rugby with broken glass in the field.

"We've had comments about things getting put back the way it was but there's just so much potential for things to go wrong - damage to the surface, rubbish, the noise. I'd be very wary of going down this road."

The council said that it was a good way of raising money and showing off the facilities of the borough.

Budget passed

- Tower Hamlets Council has passed its £300million budget after Labour members created an alliance with independent mayor Lutfur Rahman.

His ruling alliance of non-aligned councillors accepted a number of amendments from the Labour benches - signalling a rapprochement between Mr Rahman and his old party.

The mayor said: "No leader before me has faced what I am having to - £100million of devastating cuts that no local authority leader should have to face."

He accepted amendments included cuts in spending on taxis and a restoration of funding for the Greenwich and Docklands Festival.

Conservative amendments were rejected leaving a £762,000 black hole in the budget, according to the group's finance spokesman.

Millwall councillor David Snowdon said: "The mayor is continuing to spend like there is no tomorrow. He and the Labour group seem to think they can keep on funding their pet projects without cutting the waste at the Town Hall."

The meeting also saw a failed attempt by the ruling administration to cut the allowance of the Tory group leader Cllr Peter Golds from £10,000 to £5,000. Labour sided with their old foes to boot this out.

3 Comments

Cake hole said:

If tory councillors were that concerned about the state of council finances they would refuse to claim their substantial allowances. Wouldn’t they?

Hypocrites

Naomi said:

Dear "Cake hole"

I would hardly call the councillors allowances 'substantial'. Can you even name what the sum is that they receive? This sum is not pay but covers their costs in performing their role. Unlike the Executive Mayor, who is paid £65,000 per year!

As far as I'm concerned the Conservative councillors are a very hard working group, unlike some of the councillors on our Council.

Well done for hiding behind a psuedonym.

Naomi

Cllr David Snowdon (Millwall Ward) said:

In the alternative budget, one of the ways which I would have saved the money required to end the commercialisation of our parks was to cut councillor allowances!

The full details can be found at the following link

http://moderngov.towerhamlets.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=26538

A 10% cut to allowances, and a 10% cut to special responsibility allowances would have £82,993 per year or £331,972 over a four year council term.

The Mayor rejected these suggestions out of hand.

I would much rather cut councillor allowances than increase charges, commercialise our parks or cut services.

If anyone has any questions or concerns about the parks issue (or indeed anything else), feel free to contact me on david.snowdon@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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