Councillor on Medway Council
Speech delivered to full Council about the 2006–2007 budget settlement

John Ward

Speech delivered to the full Council meeting on 19th January 2006

Tonight I simply wish to indicate why, just two years after its introduction, the previous "Formula Spending Share" system of local government funding was already planned to be scrapped a year later. Mr Mayor, I can tell you that it is an obvious wheeze designed to camouflage what central Government is really up to in this arena.

Sure, it costs a fortune in wasted public money to implement yet another new system, both in Whitehall and throughout the nation, but that is callously disregarded when the primary aim to is sweep away from public attention all the gerrymandering that had been so obviously going on in that former system, and to hide the new forms of the same bad practices.

You see, Mr Mayor, when a system such as this is changed wholesale, it become very tricky for the public, media and local authorities to be able to track from what was to what now is. Thus the Government has put out a nice headline-grabbing statement about local government funding reform in general, claiming all sorts of good things, while still depriving many local authorities (including us) of millions of pounds of their due funding—in our case, a total of some eight millions, possibly more.

Its the kind of scheme that Sir Humphrey Appleby would dream up, Mr Mayor, and deserves to be viewed with just as much suspicion.

How we solve it is not yet clear, Mr Mayor, but this year-on-year situation has got well beyond even the semblance of a joke, and something drastic needs to be done to both make up the deficit this year, and ensure that the same can never happen again. The only way I can see this happening is for something to happen that results in the Blair Government resigning shortly. That would be so good for us, and for Britain as a whole.

Thank you Mr Mayor.

John M Ward (Councillor, Rochester South and Horsted)