Bexley Council gain £9 million government bailout after financial mess
Bexley Council has secured a £9 million bailout after financial problems hitting the authority. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government agreed to the council request after they hit trouble.
The authority was one of four that received bailout support this week – and the only one in London. Despite this it claimed “we’ve just got on with the job of delivering value for money and running an efficient and effective Council”. It’s somewhat embarrassing for the council given they have previously mocked other council’s that needed similar help.
Croydon council have previously required a bailout. The ruling Bexley Conservative’s Twitter account retweeted: “Those responsible for Croydon’s bankruptcy should be held accountable for those actions. This cannot be a whitewash.”
Both Croydon and Bexley’s problems are in part due to housing. In Bexley the council have overseen the building of very few social homes, with the resulting issue of needing to house homeless households in expensive emergency accommodation.
Their BexleyCo developer has lost money and barely built a home – while seeing extremely poor proposals of which many were rejected. In fact, one of the very worst developments out of hundreds – if not thousands – covered on this site over the past decade was a BexleyCo plan to build on a park in Erith. It includes zero affordable homes – despite the ever rising cost to local taxypayers through emergency housing costs.
Bexley have blamed COVID though all authorities have suffered from the impact of the pandemic – and as Bexley is Bonkers has reported two out of four gaining bailout funds this past week arguably have more legitimate claims. One is seaside resort Eastbourne which has seen the tourist trade heavily hit and the other is Luton with its airport. The vast majority have not taken the route Bexley have and failed to balance a budget.
Announcing the bailout support, MP Robert Jenrick (he of dodgy deals on the Isle of Dogs later ruled unlawful) stated:
“We know that a handful of councils face serious financial challenges. Some, it has to be said, due to very poor management but others due to the exceptional events of the past year. Taxpayer support of this kind is never provided lightly and in return for the increased flexibility afforded to councils, we expect sound financial management with residents shielded from unaffordable increases.”
That didn’t appear on the Twitter feed for some reason.
Other curious claims
Bexley Conservatives this week also attempted to claim this site had made up a statement that six libraries were at risk of closure last November – despite their own council’s report clearly stating the proposal to withdraw funding (see the last sentence):
Eventually the council reduced the level of cuts and attempted to portray it as a victory.
Upon pointing out their own November 2020 report they went silent. They also have a curious stance that anyone who highlights these issues simply must be a Labour supporter – which seems to miss this site has long highlighted flaws at neighbouring Labour Greenwich Council. It’s all very primary school level of debate. You either swallow all they say or are on the other team.
In fact the “Bexley New – Bexley Conservative” social media account is tirade of tiresome party political nonsense not dealing much in the way of facts. Easier to point fingers than look at internal failures requiring external support I suppose.
Many of the underlying issues with the council still remain and it’ll be interesting to see how 2021/22 shapes up. Housing pressures will not ease, and there is minimal truly affordable homes being built.