At Sefton's cabinet meeting this morning Labour and Tories ganged up to keep spending money we cannot afford on pet capital schemes. It does make us laugh when the Sefton Central Labour MP keeps going on about a Con/Lib deal on Sefton. It doesn't look like that from where I'm sitting. But he's new to the area and we must give him a moment or two to find his bearings.
I have written before about the grandiose plans to for our market hall. The policy of all parties on the council was to sell the hall to a market operator as we had neither the capital to invest in it or the expertise in house to run it. At the last moment a reputable firm of market operator pulled out confirming our view that the scheme was not financial viable. Since then no private sector interest has been shown in putting up even a penny of the multi million pound required and so the full cost will fall on the council and as the officers report says there is ' substantial risk'.
Having run a populist campaign to 'keep the market' the Tory leadership feels they have to carry on with the spending -indeed to hear Mrs Porter speak you would have thought she had been persuaded to adopt Gordon Brown's economic policy. She has ,of course, previous for being a spendthrift. When the last Chief Exec proposed cutting senior managers the Tory Leadership lined up with Labour to keep the highly paid, top heavy bureaucracy. No convincing arguing has ever been produced by the Tory Leadership for their actions. There is much speculation. Our new Chief Exec is again looking at cutting down the management and it will be interesting to see how the Tories will vote. There have been a number of retirements since the previous proposal. If we had gone ahead with the original suggestions we would have save £1m.
And the cost of the market? Well todate, without a brick being laid, we have spent well over a quarter of a million pounds, almost £100,000 on one consultancy. And because of this mornings decision we will now have to pick up the borrowing costs of the multi million pound borrowing that Lab and Tories have approve.
The most regretably bit of all is that we will have to make deeper cuts into services which have a greater priority..
Many of us would like to see us have a street market in Southport. We already have a sucessful farmers' market and some brilliant continental markets-altho there was some initial oposition to those from the usual suspects. Chapel St offers an excellent venue for such an initiative. It would be good to use some of the imaginative ideas that have come forward in such a venture.
It may not have escaped your notice that Mrs Porter holds the record for the lowest Tory vote ever in Southport.