Decency, integrity and public service, combined with sound public finances, should be at the heart of everything councillors do, but the current Conservative administration has fallen far short of the standards we expect of our elected representatives.
One of Queen’s Park’s two Conservative councillors, Mark Anderson, was recently found to have breached the council’s code of conduct on six counts, including ‘a politically motivated misuse of [council] resources’. He proposed improvement works only in places that would benefit his Conservative colleagues’ electoral chances. He has resigned his cabinet position as a result.
Meanwhile, both Mark Anderson and his Queen’s Park colleague, Councilor Cheryl Johnson, have propped up the wider Conservative administration, which has presided over catastrophic financial mismanagement.
Since they came to power in October 2020, the Conservatives have brought the council to the brink of bankruptcy. The council’s debt ceiling has been raised to an eye-watering £1.3bn, while almost 90% of its reserves have been exhausted, and Council Tax has risen by the maximum amount possible.
The central government in Westminster intervened last year to stop the administration’s plan to sell off the council’s beach huts, with senior Conservative minister Greg Clark describing schemes like it as ‘dodgy deals which only benefit the bottom lines of consultancies and accounting firms’.
The administration presented its most recent February budget for 2023-24 as being sound and balanced, but it contains £35m of savings which the council may not be able to find, leaving council finances in a precarious position.
In the end, the people of Queen’s Park and BCP more widely are being poorly served and are paying for Conservative failures with their Council Tax.