Councillors must prioritise finance if they are to survive the next four years.
Once again, Folkestone & Hythe District Council shot themselves in the foot with regards to their mandatory obligations under the Transparency Code 2015
They have failed to publish their payment to suppliers data and their purchase order data, for February and March 2023. As for the procurement card transaction data; of which nearly six years worth of data remains unpublished, we are not holding our breath that it will be published anytime soon. We say that because as far back as March 2022, we were promised the data would be published “soon”.
If Councillors are to get to grips with the Council finances they need to demonstrate their election promises regarding transparency are meet with deeds not words.
The Green party in a press release stated:
“People across Folkestone & Hythe district will get the change they demanded from a new council ready to listen, involve and act in their best interests.”
Well, listen to this then – get the data published – as it allows any resident to see with who, and on what the Council is spending the public pound.
Some of today’s Cllrs are old hands at watching over the public pound (albeit not very well), others are novices dipping their toes into the world of politics for the very first time. They’ll need to quickly get up to speed as during these difficult economic times the Council’s finances need to be a priority.
Understanding the Council’s finances will be a huge part of their learning curve and is certainly not an easy task. The council funding landscape is difficult, with issues such as low core funding, high inflation and a forecasted budget deficit of £16m over the next four years. Plus in this financial year alone, 2023/24, the Council will need to repay £19m of debt, and the interest of approx £1.5m.
All of this coincides with residents expecting more from their public services.
Councillors are on the front line in building trust between the public and these services. As such, it is extremely important for them to understand the financial situation they are working in.
Regardless of the political persuasion of any elected councillor, they are all now responsible for decisions that affect all 53,500 households which make up our extraordinary district. They all have a duty to their electorate to make good decisions. We accept they are not accountants, but each of our 30 Cllrs need a solid understanding of good financial management and scrutiny if they are to address the unfolding crisis in our public services.
Although the Council’s finances are not yet at the edge of the abyss, they will definitely move that way if there are more contract and financial irregularities. Now more than ever, every public pound must deliver value for money for all households in our wonderful district.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness
First thing is to get shot of Susan Priest. If there ever was a person who is totally incapable of performing the job they were employed to do, it’s her. No golden handshake either. Those Monk days are gone.
I wonder whether the mismanagement and disregard of transparency rules is led by the cabinet of councillors, who are mere laymen, or the professional council officers, who are paid a very good salary to supposedly uphold the standards that are expected from them.
Now that we have seen a clear out of the under performing council, maybe it is time to also have a clear out of overpaid officers.
During campaigning I asked about Otterpool to a now elected Councillor Bridget Chapman, who told me in my own home to “shut the fuck up” and walked off. I have sent the ring video to the Shepway Vox Team email address.
This article explains why local council members need to prioritize budgeting over the next four years if they want to see their communities thrive. The article underlines the importance of councillors making educated and responsible financial decisions and illustrates the difficulties local governments confront in successful budget management. It explains why poor financial planning can have dire results and presents solutions that council members can use. The essay as a whole provides an interesting viewpoint on the fiscal duties of District council members and encourages readers to think about the far-reaching effects of their choices.