Islington Tribune
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 23 May 2008

Tim Newark: ‘So much waste’
£2m Town Hall publicity bill under fire from wastebusters

Newly launched pressure group claims 10 per cent savings could cut council tax by £60

IN one year the Town Hall spent a whopping £2.3 million on publicity and a further £12.5 million on middle management staff, it was revealed this week.
The figures were obtained by a newly formed local branch of the Tax Payers’ Alliance (TPA) pressure group, who mounted a demonstration against financial waste outside the town hall at the weekend.
The group is led by Highbury-based writer and historian Tim Newark. He believes every council tax-payer could have at least £60 lopped off their annual bill if the Lib Dem-ruled authority reduced its spending to what was essential.
Mr Newark, a former anti-parking campaigner who stood for the Tories in the last general election, said: “There is so much local government waste. Islington Council recently advertised a £28,000 post for a researcher for the governing Lib Dems, promoting their policies. Is that really what our council tax is for?”
The group is researching examples of financial waste at a time when it says the council, like everyone else, should be tightening its belt.
Mr Newark added: “They replaced some perfectly functioning bicycle racks near my house with another set of bicycle racks that just had a metal band across the bottom. What’s that all about? A waste of money and carbon emissions.”
The TPA, a non-political group dedicated to reducing taxes and government waste, has launched a Ten Per Cent Challenge.
“We have identified savings that could be made from some of Islington Council’s non-essential spending,” Mr Newark said. “For example, in 2006-2007, Islington spent £2,322,000 on publicity, £12,570,000 on middle management, and £22,085,000 on pensions.
“I know that the pensions are set but they also top them up, thanks to the taxpayer, and that doesn’t happen very much in the private world unless you are a fat cat.
“If just 10 per cent of this were reduced, that would make £3,697,700, a total of 7.1 per cent of your council tax revenue. This could reduce the band D council tax bill by £64, something I am sure Islington residents would very much appreciate.”
Finsbury activist Leo Chapman said he was concerned that money was not well spent by the Town Hall.
He added: “The council’s communication and information department has £1 million spent on it but you can never get hold of anyone.”
He believes senior local authority staff, like those in Islington, have a “cushioned life” with none of the competition and uncertainty experienced in private business.
Lib Dem council leader Councillor James Kempton said Islington’s council tax under Labour was the highest in London and was now among the lowest.
He added: “A communication budget helps to get across to the public precisely how we are spending their money. For example, we are publishing an A to Z of services for residents.
“As for a Lib Dem researcher, there are currently three in the Labour office and only two in the Lib Dems’. This is an information vacancy that needs filling. It doesn’t have to be party political. Anyone can apply for the post.”
He said the council has a significant project to cut spending in all areas. “We’re determined to make sure every pound of council tax is well spent on front-line ser­vices,” he added.

Comment on this article.
(You must supply your full name and email address for your comment to be published)







Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions