Why is our money going to prop up Brent Council?
HELEN PENDER – Independent candidate - Oakham North East Ward.
I’m asking you to help me change the face of local politics on May 5th in order to deliver a more transparent, more accountable, local democracy.
A MORE TRANSPARENT DEMOCRACY
For example, I would like to know how our council justifies giving a two million pound, soft terms loan to Brent Council? Was half a percent (0.5%) really the best interest rate that Rutland County council were able to obtain? Or are the people of Rutland being asked to fork out for overspending in Brent?
We have had various differing reports on what has happened to the money lost in the Icelandic banking fiasco and none of the explanations has been consistent. First we were told that we were going to get all the money back (about a million pounds) – then we were told that we had got all the money back – then we were told that most of the money had been returned – then we were told that we’d recovered just over 50%, but that further instalments were expected. I am not even sure that the members of Rutland County Council (DC), whether Councillors or Officers, know what the real position is – particularly after the local paper reported that our council “found” £1 million recently. No one knows where it was hidden or how it was ‘found.’
To ensure that the money we lost in the Iceland banking fiasco is not repeated we need to be told the thinking behind our investment policies.
This is your money that “they” are misusing and you should be told why approximately 7.5% of our annual budget has gone to Brent Council; when we can expect to see the money returned and why such a small interest rate was fixed.
Had Brent Council gone to a bank for this loan they could have expected to pay at least 6% interest to a bank. Why does Rutland County Council believe that they should use our money to help out a London Council? What on earth induced RCC to make this sort of ‘investment’? Who knows? I don’t. But we should be told. I intend to ask these sorts of questions.
The decision to turn down Sainsbury’s is an economic disaster for Oakham. Tesco needs real competition. Some of their pricing reflects the virtual monopoly Tesco has in the area. By denying Sainsbury’s permission to build at the end of Land’s End Way we have given up 300 jobs (equivalent to 200 full time jobs) and a real competitor to help keep down food prices for supermarket shoppers. One of the arguments was that the land Sainsbury’s intended to build on had been set aside for office use – since around 2001. The fact remains that no one has wanted to build offices on this site for ten years and no one else looks likely to want to build on the site.
Nothing has been built on the Sainsbury’s site and so no jobs are being created.
We are gong to be entering an era of severe local economic recession due to the closure of RAF Cottesmore and HMP Ashwell with the loss of hundreds of jobs and the consequent loss of hundreds of people able to pay Council tax. One of the reasons we haven’t attracted sufficient B1 office use on the site, on which Sainsbury’s wish to build, is due to the fact that offices built on that site will have nowhere for office workers to buy sandwiches, petrol, and essential stationery. A supermarket on the site will ensure that it becomes attractive to would be builders of offices.
(See www.helenpender.blogspot.com posting on Sainsbury’s planning fiasco for a more in depth analysis.) Oakham needs to be rescued from the short term thinking which has dogged this Council. I am not connected either financially or in any other way to Sainsbury but will campaign for Sainsbury’s planning application to be accepted and will support any appeal they may make.
The Government has offered substantial economic inducements to build new housing. The RCC new housing initiatives on the Hawkesmead Estate and elsewhere will net the Council well over £500,000 in subsidies from Central Government. However there is a real problem for people who do not drive. Our public transport system is in a dire state. Without a car, residents cannot work on Sundays in either Stamford or Melton (since we have no buses at all on a Sunday and no trains run until the afternoon); mid-week the last bus to leave Peterborough for Oakham is at 4.40 pm. Residents can’t even go to a nightclub, see a film or the theatre in Stamford or Melton, since our public transport system makes it impossible to return on the evening of the performance. Residents unable to drive cannot work or play outside Oakham.
Many households cannot afford to run more than one vehicle and others, especially pensioners and young people, do not have access to motor vehicles. This limits their mobility, both for leisure and for work.
Oakham’s economic future depends upon having a decent public transport system which will be the key to future growth in an increasingly difficult local economy. Employers like RAF Cottesmore and HMP Ashwell have left and we desperately need to attract new businesses to the area. Without public transport we are rudderless and hopelessly adrift in these difficult economic times.
I intend to really listen to electors. The fact that almost everyone I have spoken to in Oakham has supported Sainsbury’s planning application is a proof of the sad reality that local Councillors neither listen to their constituents nor vote in their interests.
Can you help to change the face of local policies in our local Council? - Yes you can.
Printed and published for Helen Pender care of Finkey Street, Oakham, Rutland LE156AG telephone: 07749571341