THE BIG SPENDER.
Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor, true to form, has begun his campaign by demanding more billions to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. As Chief Treasury Secretary in the last Labour government he enjoyed some irresponsibility for the spending policies which produced little but enabled him to leave the departure note “I’m afraid there is no money” and the need for a period of austerity. The animal has not changed its spots. “Any amount you can spend I will spend more” appears to be his campaign slogan. There is every indication that as mayor he would run true to form with excessive spending, nothing to show for it except sky high rates and no money left.
The words “Sandwell Council” and “incompetence” skip hand in hand. At the end of May the council remained bottom of the national league table for the distribution of money from government to businesses suffering as a result of coronavirus. Over £28million remained to be distributed and Sandwell with 37% not yet allotted to qualifying businesses remained last of all local authorities in England for efficiency of distribution. Since this cash is desperately needed for firms to continue and provide jobs Sandwell’s performance is nothing short of a scandal. But it typifies Labour’s unconcern for ordinary working people.
THE VANITY PROJECT.
Despite coronavirus work has continued at the Smethwick site for the Commonwealth Games swimming pool. Already a valuable green field site has been sacrificed for a building to house the two weeks of aquatic events. If the project is to be completed on time, which is doubtful, its cost is likely to be millions more than originally estimated, with Sandwell council tax payers stumping up.
Once the elite swimmers have gone, Sandwell will be faced with the cost of maintaining an expensive white elephant. This realisation, slow to dawn at Sandwell council, plus the increased cost of the project has led Sandwell to look for savings elsewhere. Brandhall Golf Course has now fallen victim. Sandwell council seems determined to close the club and build on the site. As a green field site it is cheaper to build on than reclaiming derelict land and the council will save the club maintenance costs. So it’s a lose lose lose situation for Sandwell residents with another piece of environmental destruction, alternative brown fields left neglected eyesores and another hike in the rates. Little wonder that, by tradition, Sandwell’s Labour council leader maintains a rural bolthole to escape the devastation they cause in Sandwell; Eling in pastoral Derbyshire, Davies in bucolic Herefordshire.