UKIPs response to the budget cuts by Bradford Council

Bradford Council have recently announced a package of drastic cuts to its budget, including:

  • cuts to adult social care of £16M over the next two years
  •  shutting the Bradford Ministry of Food
  • closing all but one of the districts public toilets
  • saving more than £1M over the next two years from school nursing and health visiting
  • cutting the events and festivals budget of £150,000
  • saving £1M over two years by stopping grants to voluntary and community groups which run healthy eating or exercise programmes
  • saving £100,000 by pulling staff out of more libraries,
  • closing seven community Halls,
  • stopping all maintenance of sports pitches and bowling greens,
  • closing two out of four of the districts visitor’s information centres

With these cuts comes a rise in Council tax of 4.99%.

The Labour-run council blames these cuts on the Tory government and their programme of austerity. Whilst we accept that there have been austerity cuts imposed by the Tories, it does not shy away from the fact that our Council’s finances have been appalling badly managed by Labour.

Millions have been wasted on vanity projects such as £29m on the Connect Superhighway Cycle lane that very few people use and £24m on the Mirror Pool at City Park. The council claimed that the latter would bring in 6000 people a day; a grossly optimistic figure. Other smaller projects include £15k on a metal statue of a baby and £13,000 on fitting colour-changing lights to the top of a Bradford city centre tower block. The latest vanity project is a £7,000 upgrade to the five-room suite of offices at City Hall, used by the Leader of Bradford Council. The plans have been blasted by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and opposition groups, with one councillor saying it “beggars belief” at a time of multi-million pound cuts to services.

In addition, the Council spent nearly £100,000 over the three years from 2012 to 2015 with an external public relations (PR) firms, despite having its own press and communications team. The TaxPayers’ Alliance branded this spending “totally unjustifiable” at a time of austerity.

Are these really the kind of projects that the Council should be spending OUR money on, when basic services such as the gritting of roads is cut.

There has also been a lack of forward planning for revenue generation. For instance, the Odeon cinema refurbishment could have been undertaken by the Council and not by private financiers. That way the Council could have reaped the benefits from the income generated out of the building. The refurbishment of St Georges Hall, financed partly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, could have been a prime example of spending money for future revenue generation. Can you imagine Leeds City Council ever letting their city getting into this state of disrepair?

There are other projects that have been abandoned; £1.2m was wasted on a feasibility study for a swimming pool in the City that will now not go ahead. Surely at the time the £1.2m was spent, the Council knew that austerity measures were coming?

The general public have already suggested how various savings could be made. For instance, the £17m project on the upgrading burial grounds and crematorium could be put on hold. There is talk of replacing the Jacobs Well Council building and building a new Council Hub in the City at a cost of £20m; the agreement for this was signed in 2015, during the austerity cuts. Has money been set aside for this? Or consultant’s fees already been spent? Surely there are empty buildings in in City that could be used instead? A further £19m has been set aside to turn the old Keighley College into yet another “Council Hub”. This is despite the Labour Councillor there stating that there was not the need for another hub, the three current ones in Keighley already being under-utilised.

So what are UKIP’s solutions?
Can we just blame the Tory government who initiated the programme of austerity. Or the Labour Council who mismanaged the money? That would be too easy. Instead, UKIP has come up with its own suggestions:

Firstly, we would always argue that council tax should be as low as possible, whilst maintaining essential services. Our council should cut its annual wage bill of £542m, or £225m if you exclude staff in schools. It should not be cutting front-line staff and services such as gritting, waste collection and community centres.

Secondly, a full review of vanity projects undertaken by the Council should be undertaken. These have already been described in detail above.

Thirdly, the Council’s advertising and self-promotion budgets should be cut. Why does a Council need to self-promote itself?

In terms of the council’s wage bill, there are numerous ways to reduce it; by looking at Councillor’s salaries and allowances and by cutting highly paid council executives’ salaries.

Its already been established that 650 MPs is too many and the Boundary Commission are looking to reduce the numbers to 600. Has it occurred to anyone that 90 councillors for a population of 530,000 may be too many? Each ward has 3 councillors and this could easily be reduced to two, if not one. You would struggle to find a member of the public being able to name ALL 3 of his councillors. As well as reducing the Councillor wage bill, local elections would only need to be held every other year, providing an additional saving.

Have our councillors taken a reduction in salary? No, they have taken a 1% payrise on their basic salary. Granted, a freeze in pay and reducing the number of Councillors isn’t going to save the Council £millions. But it is going to send the right message out to the constituents that “we’re all in this together”. A step in the right direction, so to speak.

Another saving can be made by cutting the Special Responsibility Allowances of Councillors. In 2015/16 Councillors were paid £13,463 a year with Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) amounting to a total of £589,260 between them. A suggestion by a UKIP Councillor in a full Council meeting that the SRAs could be cut was met with stunned silence.

The Councillors have reduced the number of Executive members from 7 to 6, with the creation of 6 Executive Assistants, now reduced to 3. But in a meeting on 4th November last year, they decided to award these 3 assistants a 50% increase in their SRA. The justification was that they were now doubling their workload as they had been reduced from 6 to 3. But these were all fairly new positions anyway!

The SRA’s mean that at least 4 of the Councillors earn over £40,000 a year. And is it right that Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of the Labour party in Bradford Council earns over £50k a year?

After all, she has a Chief Executive, Kersten England, earning £178,476 a year and below this a team of at least 8 Directors and 18 Assistant Directors. Of these Directors and Assistant Directors, 7 earnt over £100k per year and 4 earnt between £95-100k per year during 2015/16.

Whilst some senior manager posts are due to be merged, UKIP believes there should be a full review of executive pay. The Prime Minister, with far greater responsibility, only earns £142,500; is it right that the Chief Executive of Bradford Council earns nearly £36,000 more than the Prime Minister? We can understand that profit making companies wanting to attract the right kind of people to their top positions would pay more than this. But the Council is not a profit-making company; it is a public service body operating for the good of its residents.

It seems to me that there are too many admirals and not enough ships at our Council. Admirals sit there with their excessive salaries, self-promotion budgets and vanity projects whilst residents are left with their essential services cut BEYOND the bare minimum.

Sara Hardman, UKIP Bradford & District

Our message, our fight and our cause

Stephen Place

After a suitable period of reflection and having sufficiently licked our metaphorical wounds. The hardworking loyal foot soldiers of the party need to come out fighting. We cannot lay down and let political commentators get away with describing us as ‘toast’. We cannot let Labour crow about their victory in Stoke, Corbyn called our policies ‘The policies of hate and divisiveness’.

The default preamble to talking about Ukip by many is that we are the ‘anti- immigration party’. This is part of our new challenge. We need to dispel resolutely and with a tinge of anger this nonsense. The message that we are not anti- immigration but for controlled and managed immigration has to be clear and forcibly reinforced at every given opportunity.

Forget a peace-meal approach to dealing with the media, we never get a fair shake of the dice. We should be Trump like in our suspicion and derision of the media, they are not our friends. Michael Crick from Channel 4 should simply be banned from any involvement with this party, he is a true Ukip hater, we will never win with him and we will never receive a fair balanced reporting of anything we say or do. Read his tweets and you have a flavour of how much he detests anything and anyone to do with the party.

Where do we go, apart from Immigration? David Davies has said last week that we can expect uncontrolled immigration to carry on for years to come, we have to highlight this. We have to make it known to the public that the Tories just cannot be trusted on immigration.

We need more though.

Ron Fiddler, also known as Jamal al-Harith was detained by the Americans having been found in an Iraqi jai in 2004, he was taken to Guantanamo bay, Baroness Chakrabarti a newly promoted Corbynite Labour peer actively campaigned for his release along with David Blunkett the then Labour Home Secretary, lovely Ron was released and given a £1 million pound handshake for his trouble in 2009. In 2014 he went to Syria with his wife and four children, they later fled Isis. He blew himself up last week in a suicide bomb mission killing several Syrian policemen. Nothing has been said, the Baroness has never been asked an uncomfortable question about this. This is our fight, this is our message. This is our cause.

2017, we have people lying on beds in corridors in under funded poorly performing hospitals and dying, literally dying. Yes we have an ageing population and this is the stock reason offered by politicians, no one is mentioning that 600,000 new people who came to live here last year, a new population the size of Newcastle with the right to free health care at the point of use. This is our fight, this is our message. This is our cause.

Gangs of Muslim men across this country are responsible for the industrial scale sexual abuse of young vulnerable girls, some as young as thirteen, thirteen! FGM is a continuing growing horrendous problem, it is being practiced in London right under the nose of the self –righteous Lord mayor who never talks of it, never addresses it, we must take him to task, over 5,000 cases last year alone and not one single prosecution. This is our fight, this is our message. This is our cause. Polygamous marriages within certain faith groups are being allowed to flourish here in Great Britain, often the girls being married are under age. This is our fight, this is our message. This is our cause.

Over 6,000 Asylum seekers have failed their claim to remain in this country and we have not removed them, they remain here on benefits at the cost of the tax payer. We are borrowing to then pay out £12 billion per annum to overseas aid, much of it is lost amongst consultants and agencies. There is no measurable outcome to this expenditure. We pay .5% of our GDP more than any other country to overseas aid, yet many elderly people in this country do not and cannot have a reasonable level of care in their dotage. This is our fight, this is our message. This is our cause.

The vanity project that is HS2 is now estimated to cost up to £156 billions. This is a folly of unprecedented scale. It will disturb and displace thousands of people, cut a scar through some of our most precious countryside to get people to Birmingham from London 30 minutes quicker than you can now, freight is the clarion cry from the enthusiasts. This is a lie. This is our fight, this is our message. This is our cause.

Sharia law, education, house building policing, crime and defence are mainstream topics and should not be ignored but we are and have to be radical, outspoken and honest.

Stephen Place
Chair Ukip Richmond (Yorks)

Bradford Council discuss underground train line

Letter to the Telegraph and Argus:

I am dumbfounded on reading that the Labour faction in Bradford Council are discussing the possibility of an underground train line going to the Interchange. Surely we, as a city, have far more issues to discuss, such as the lack of social care, mental health, lack of school places and roads and pavements etc etc.  Surely these are far more important, in our current time of austerity and cutbacks?

I appreciate that it is only a discussion but time is of an intrinsic value that you can never get back.  I don’t pay towards the Councillors salaries for them to discuss totally meaningless subjects when we are in such a poor state as a city. Let’s get our act together and concentrate on the important issues.