As is the way of things Julian* has responded to my post of yesterday where I pointed out the hypocrisy in his criticising another party for failing to cost policies when at the same time Labour are parading their own entirely un-costed manifesto.
If I was wrong in the substance of my comments he could easily have silenced me – by identifying the cost of Labour’s proposals and in turn what he would cut, or how much council tax would rise. He didn’t (I suspect that should read: couldn’t) do this, and so instead chose to obfuscate. Not surprising from the party that ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to put together an alternative budget.
So what does Julian have to say, well…
Firstly he denies ever proposing to purchase properties in Victoria Avenue. Well maybe He personally didn’t say that, but the labour manifesto does commit the party to
“take tough action on derelict properties, including those on Victoria Avenue which are a hazard and an eyesore”
The way that councils would be able to achieve that outcome would be to (compulsorily) buy up the properties. Of course you could try talking to landlords (done that) or alternatively giving some sort of planning permission that creates an incentive for development (eg. high rise flats). The problem is the first solution has been tried (repeatedly) and failed, while the second would bring with it plenty of objections from local residents and labour supporters.
Secondly he refers to Labour’s un-costed proposal for an additional primary school. The conservatives are already providing a new primary in Shoebury, to replace Hinguar school and create more space for pupils. We have completely costed and resourced that scheme which is already under-way. If Labour are claiming to be able to provide an additional school over and above that which the Conservatives are proposing then they need to provide the details for where it will be funded from, if they are not proposing anything beyond the Conservatives then they must make that clear in their manifesto.
Thirdly he says, in essence, that other Labour spending pledges are of very small value and therefore don’t need costing. Remember the money involved in supporting Gay pride events, alley gating and street lighting were just a couple of examples of Labour’s unfunded spending plans. Put those together with other examples and it is by no means quite the small fry Julian imagines.
Compared to the £400+ million budget the council enjoys it may not seem much, but discretionary spending is a far smaller portion of that amount. It seems awfully lazy (and maybe a bit odd?) to go around criticising others for not costing pledges and then say that their own spending plans are so marginal they don’t need to bother working out the expense.
Fourthly Julian mentions trees. Let me be clear, Southend currently plants a lot of trees. Mostly these are not that expensive, while a few are rather pricey. Planting large tree’s (irrespective of origin) is unfortunately expensive. I think the Palm tree’s have been quite a success and recall that back when we originally discussed putting in trees along the seafront people were really keen on having Palm trees. If Labour plans to plant more tree’s then I’d like to know what trees, where and at what cost.
Julian then complains about litter and fly tipping in Southend. I agree litter and fly tipping is wrong, it is a blight and that is why we have to put a stop to it. We already have a team of street inspectors and are one of the cleanest towns in the country, but of course more could be done. I was a councillor for 10 years and didn’t hear a single idea from Julian, or any Labour councillor, on additional things we should do about this. Rather than moaning why don’t they actually put forward their suggestions.
The truth is Labour’s manifesto is poorly conceived, filled with griping about issues which bear no relation to local government, demonstrates a poor understanding of how the council operates and in the rare occasions it does make tangible proposals fails to explain where the funding will come from.
- While writing this is an idea did occur to me. To kill two birds with one stone perhaps we could support a free school in purchasing a property in Victoria Avenue, improving the street and increasing the number of primary places at a stroke. This would definitely need some thought, consideration and before being proposed in a manifesto – some costings!
- I am sorry that I spelled your name wrong and that I forgot to link to you. That wasn’t done on purpose and I will update the post to reflect that. In truth yours is perhaps one of the more reasoned opposition blogs that I read, which is why I chose to respond (Of course given some of the competition you might not feel that is too much of a compliment).