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T_i_B

T_i_B's Journal
T_i_B's Journal
January 18, 2024

One by one, England's councils are going bankrupt - and nobody in Westminster wants to talk about it

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/jan/14/englands-councils-bankrupt-westminster?CMP=share_btn_tw

All around us, a familiar disaster grinds on: constant increases in demand on our most crucial public services, which the financially blitzed councils charged with providing them simply cannot meet. The result is a story that speaks volumes about Westminster’s state of contorted denial: increasing numbers of our cities, towns and counties now face municipal bankruptcy, but no one in any position of national power and influence seems to want to talk about it.

The dire predicament of councils all over England now invites an obvious question: at what point might we collectively realise that hundreds of local crises now add up to a national catastrophe? Our political culture is too Westminster-focused to follow the stories and join the dots; the dreaded term “local government” still causes eyes to glaze over. But all over the country, the picture is now the same, and things are rapidly nearing the point of complete breakdown.

Up until last year, the handful of councils that had issued section 114 notices – a reference to the part of the Local Government Finance Act of 1988 that covers insolvent local authorities – were mostly mired in stories of financial mismanagement. Then came the fall of Birmingham city council, tipped into bankruptcy late last year by its mishandling of an equal-pay claim and a £100m IT project. By that point, a longstanding fear was becoming inescapable: that whatever the faults and flaws of particular council leaderships, a systemic crisis was about to break. The proof arrived when Nottingham city council hit the skids amid talk of a grimly familiar gap between local revenues and the sheer cost of constantly trying to patch up our fraying social fabric.

Nearly one in five council leaders in England now say they are likely to declare bankruptcy in the next 15 months. The latest places to sound warnings about financial collapse include Stoke-on-Trent, Middlesbrough, Somerset, Bradford and Cheshire East. The recently announced 6.5% increase in funds the government gives to councils will barely touch the sides. In both deprived and affluent parts of the country, the millions being cut from local services echo the fiscal savagery of George Osborne’s austerity.
July 25, 2023

Reminds me of Tory strategy on planning

Tory government in Westminster orders councils to build houses. Tories at local level then campaign against any proposal to build the houses that Westminster Tories ordered them to do.

Saw this Nimbyish strategy from the Tories at first hand when I lived in Derbyshire and in my opinion, the best strategy for Labour is to be upfront about the fact that this is being ordered by Westminster, and proactive in engaging the public about it.

As to stuff like ULEZ, clean air zones, 15 minute cites etc, I have observed that this stuff is very popular in more central parts of cities, and opposed by people on the outskirts. I can't comment on how this affects Uxbridge as I don't know that area, but I have a number of issues with how this is being implemented in in my home town of Sheffield.

August 7, 2022

When confronted with looming economic catastrophe...

...our politicians are like rabbits caught in the headlights of a speeding car. There are no solutions to this mess that don't involve a lot of pain or telling people who read the Diana Express a few home truths they don't want to hear.

July 11, 2022

All very depressing isn't it?

They only have to appeal to a very narrow, and rather extreme electorate in the form of grassroots Tories and this contest is almost certain to deliver a new PM with no idea about how to work for anyone else.

None of the candidates seem to have much idea of how to clean up the sleaze and dishonesty of the Johnson era, let alone how to deal with rampant inflation, or collapsing trade to name but 2 problems.

I don't expect the more moderate runners such as Tugdenhat or Hunt to make much headway. Morduant and Braverman look error prone. Sunak appears to have a big target on his back. Zahawi is making all sorts of wild, undeliverable promises. Grant Schapps has too much personal baggage even for this lot. Kemi Badenoch may be someone who's politics I firmly dislike, but she seems to be quietly building up a fair bit of support.

February 1, 2022

The usual Tory "defence" of their lockdown shenanigans....

... Is to claim that the general public isn't interested and would much rather that the government got on with their usual agenda of being beastly to foreigners.

The trouble is that people are interested, and actually quite annoyed by all this. The Coronavirus pandemic has been a life changing experience for almost all of us so it's quite galling to see SW1 muppets thinking that the rules they foist on the rest of us don't apply to them.

The fallout from this isn't just something remote from the rest of us either. Aside from the abysmal example being set by politicians, it's making the fight against Coronavirus more difficult and also dragging more and more people into the mire, as can be seen with the current situation with the chief executive of Sheffield Council at present.

August 28, 2021

With regard to HGV drivers

The issues behind this have been known for a while. HGV driving is an ageing profession, lots of drivers nearing retirement with very few young people training to drive HGV''s. This has been the case for a few years now, and use of immigrant labour has been the obvious short term solution to a long term problem.

Leaving the EU has removed that solution. And the government has given this problem no consideration whatsoever, so an opportunity to do something positive to sort this problem is being squandered.

Other than rejoining the EU, the government really needs to reclassify HGV as skilled labour (which it most definitely is, even if it's not appreciated as such by most) and offer free HGV driver training. At present it's expensive to train as a HGV driver, and there are better paid jobs with more sociable hours out there where you don't have to pay so much to train for.

November 14, 2020

What Jake Berry did here...

Was to totally undermine the argument he was making about protecting team sports.

When you consider the damage being done to grassroots sports by the pandemic, the last thing anybody needed was this clown making this into a class argument or a North v South argument when it is anything but.

I suspect that Mr Berry''s thought process has been warped by the "culture war" nonsense that's currently so fashionable on the right.

October 30, 2020

Cultism

The movement surrounding Corbyn was quite cultish and put loyalty to Corbyn ahead of everything else.

It wasn't a small movement either. Corbyn had significant grassroots support that dominated Labour. And Corbyn's supporters were often quite myopic with their focus on internal Labour Party issues above stuff that actually mattered to voters.

There was a leadership contest following the disastrous EU referendum, and Corbyn's lacklustre performance in that campaign, but the organisational network surrounding Corbyn, and the influx of new Labour members personally devoted to Corbyn ensured that the leadership challenge never really had a chance.

October 18, 2020

"Doubling down" is a major part of the Tory playbook

When right wing politicians and commentators get things badly wrong they don't admit their mistake as that would be a sign of weakness. Instead they "double down" and keep in digging themselves further into a hole.

Patel appears very strongly to be very much one of those who will never admit to any error. It's been a successful strategy for right wing politicians for a while. Even if it has created a hugely dishonest, wildly arrogant and incapable generation of politicians.

October 5, 2020

There's a lot of blame flying around at the moment

Truth be told, I think that people not respecting the rules, weak leadership from Westminster politicians and anti lockdown gobshites like Peter Hitchens and Piers Corbyn all have to take some of the responsibility.

The second wave is happening, and I fully expect full lockdown to return before too long. Winter conditions alone, with people not ventilating their homes as much will play a major part in things here.

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