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Conservative councillor insists Labour’s £1million Lichfield District Council budget plan for Burntwood doesn’t add up

A Conservative councillor has accused Labour of seeking headlines rather than providing a realistic budget proposal after they called for £1million to be allocated to Burntwood.

The opposition group presented a plan to the controlling Tory group at a meeting of Lichfield District Council last night as part of a debate on the council tax rate and the local authority’s spending plans for the coming year.

They had called, amongst other for an increase to spending for Burntwood

Cllr Doug Pullen
Cllr Doug Pullen

But Cllr Doug Pullen, who also leads Burntwood Town Council, said the sums did not add up.

“In six years of my sitting at Lichfield District Council, Labour have not once provided a fully costed budget,” he said.

“By providing a fully costed budget, the Labour group could demonstrate which services would suffer due to the services which they wish to promote as well as who would be better off and who would be worse off.

“They have chosen not to do so, and instead hang a very shiny carrot of £1million  for the residents of Burntwood. This reads well in the media, but does not actually deal with the technicalities  of delivering  the funding to the areas that require it.

“I spoke in the debate, and confirmed my support for increased funding for Burntwood and the rural areas, however I could not support a motion which included figures apparently plucked out of the air.”

The disagreement comes after Cllr Pullen had previously called for an end to political disagreements at Burntwood Town Council.

But Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour group at Lichfield District Council, said his comments took the discussion in an opposite direction.

“So much for Cllr Pullen wanting politicians to work cooperatively together for the benefit of Burntwood,” she said. “That lasted less than a week.

Cllr Sue Woodward
Cllr Sue Woodward

“If he couldn’t support my amendment for Burntwood, he could of course have proposed a fully-costed alternative himself, but he didn’t.

“We put forward genuine alternatives to the Tory budget which again saw Burntwood treated as the Cinderella of Lichfield District.”

Cllr Woodward said a fairer deal was needed for Burntwood residents.

“We’ve been strung along for months now with vague promises about investment in the town,” she said. “My modest proposal was that some unallocated funds should be committed to our town as well as some for the rural villages rather than the city yet again.

“This came to about £1.75million. I proposed £1million for Burntwood and £750,000 for the rural areas.

“It was made up from the additional – yes, additional – £696,000 committed last night to a short-term fix for the Birmingham Road Site on top of the £2,299,000 already approved by Lichfield’s Tories. This was added to almost £140,000 that was going into reserves and a windfall of almost £900,000 from a VAT reclaim.

“The £1million figure is not a huge amount compared to what’s been shovelled into the black hole that was the failed Friarsgate project but it would have made a huge difference to our town.

“I’m sorry Cllr Pullen didn’t feel able to support it.”

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9 Comments

  1. Philip John

    20th February, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Sounds like Labour know exactly where the money is coming from. Perhaps they’ll publish their proposal for everyone to see now?

  2. John Griffiin

    20th February, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Cllr Woodward is far more on top of the money than any of the Tories, but then she won’t be figuring in the amount to be shovelled into the already bulging pockets of ‘consultants’, the Garrick, the continuing hole that is Friarsgate, and their jolly chums in the developer business.

  3. Steve Norman

    20th February, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Less spent in Friarsgate and instead invested in the rest of Lichfield District is just a matter of deciding where the money that is available, goes.

    Instead of to the few in the centre of Lichfield- again – but to the many in the rest of the District including Burntwood. Spend the VAT windfall in Burntwood as Labour councillors proposed instead of putting it into reserves. Don’t spend £000’s tarting up the Friarsgste Fiasco site (it should all have been completed by now according the original plan) because of the elections in May.

    Detailed budgets are always difficult in Opposition as you don’t have the staff resources that the controlling group does. That’s why the Tories at the County (to be fair) never presented a detailed budget – and sometimes not even an alternative proposal when Opposition. Not even one that resulted, like Lichfield District, in charging the maximum Council Tax allowed without a referendum year on year.

    Still Burntwood’s Conservatives, who can’t even produce a Neighbourhood Plan after nearly four years at the Town Council, can explain to our Burntwood communities why they prefer to spend, spend and spend again on Lichfield Friarsgate.

  4. Cllr Sue Woodward

    20th February, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Absolutely!

  5. Cllr Sue Woodward

    21st February, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Just to be clear to Cllr Pullen and others, the proposals I put forward were checked and agreed to be sound both by the senior Finance Officer and Legal Officer at LDC, as I said at the meeting. I won’t embarrass Cllr Pullen by pointing out that he hadn’t realised that the budget proposed by the Tories included an additional – ADDITIONAL – £696,000 for short-term improvements to the old Friarsgate site, on top of the £2,299,000 already committed. If he hadn’t realised, and he’s one of the sharper ones in the controlling Tory Group, I’m not confident that many of his colleagues had. He argued that funds already committed and agreed shouldn’t be removed – and I would agree – but all of the funds that I proposed should go to Burntwood and elsewhere in the District were available for this purpose. Besides, if he was so concerned about my proposals, why did he abstain (along with four other Tories and one who supported the amendment) rather than vote against? Trying to have his cake and eat it?

  6. Cllr Jon O'Hagan

    21st February, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Sue, you constantly demand more scrutiny at LDC.

    On Tuesday night, however, you produce a piece of paper with a few numbers, but without headings, explanations, or a rationale.

    You propose it to the council with No notice, and expect everyone to accept your “back of a fag packet” style demands for £1.5 millions.

    No. Without any type of scrutiny, or audit. No.

    This was clearly a pre-election ploy to grab headlines, and then complain that no one takes you seriously.

    This was a transparent publicity stunt, that only your husband, and other acolytes take seriously.

  7. wilf

    21st February, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    See the guard dog is off the leash with Jon O’Hagan leaping to Lichfield District Council’s defence. I’m neither an acolyte or married to Sue Woodward and I can see that money is being pumped into pretending the leadership didn’t balls up Friarsgate, so why shouldn’t the rest of the taxpayers who fund your free biscuits get a look in?

    I say guard dog, but judging by his social media O’Hagan’s got about as much bite as a daddy longlegs.

  8. Joanne Grange

    21st February, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    If the consultation on Friarsgate is only happening at the beginning of March, I’m intrigued to find out how an extra £0.7m has already been determined as the price of a short term fix. Is this yet another example of LDC’s “consultation” only occurring after a decision has been made? It’s to be hoped the electorate come up with the right answer in the “consultation”.

    Last time I checked I’m not married to Cllr Woodward either but I think her plan to spend more outside the city centre makes more sense than a short term, pre-election fix of the Friarsgate bombsite. £0.7m seems an awful lot for the temporary loos and benches that was recently quoted as being the current cunning plan to make voters forget.

  9. Darryl Godden

    21st February, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    So Sue is saying the figures were checked and Jon O’Hagan is saying not.

    Anyone else find this tedious?

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