A Theatre of Distractions

Out of yesterday evening’s Full Council meeting, it was interesting to see the jousting of the major parties – the Labour Party, unrepresented in Council staking out the entrance with their placards, the Liberal Democrats papering over the cracks of their failed administration with the Local Plan and the Conservatives focussed on the opportunity of freezing Councillors’ allowances to subsidise the re-opening of the Charles Cryer theatre.

Some might observe that with the local Councillors enjoying the best return in the area per capita of electorate, that a reduction in allowances may have been more appropriate but actually, arguing over who gets the slice of cake with the cherry on top distracted from some more serious content of the agenda.

Mind you, with a main reports pack of 176 pages and multiple supplementary documents, Councillors would be hard pressed to absorb even a proportion of the meeting content and inevitably there are some hidden gems that should concern every voter.

Typical is a document with the exciting title “MINIMUM REVENUE PROVISION POLICY STATEMENT 2017/18 ONWARDS”.  On page two, this document reviews four areas of commercial involvement.

  • The establishment of two wholly owned companies which will be provided with loans on a commercial basis.
  • The acquisition of commercial property as part of a Property Investment Portfolio
  • The plan for the Council to acquire ex local authority and market stock properties to be used as temporary accommodation.
  • The Council’s purchase of land as part of the land holding for the development of the London Cancer Hub that is due to be sold on to property developers.

Why be concerned?

This is why, the use of the word “Prudent” – ….there is no need to set aside prudent provision to repay the debt liability….if the asset value significantly decreases, a prudent MRP policy will commence.

And that is in just one area – is this a reduction in asset value by percentage or by value and how do you measure significant? It is our money being played for in the Sutton Casino of Dreams and there needs to be some proper stewardship in place.

Rather than Independent and Qualified Non-Executive Directors guiding these commercial activities, they are overseen by the unqualified and politically dominated Strategy and Resource Committee together with their equally inept Sutton Shareholding Board.

It is time for change – not placard waving or political dogma but proper Independent representation of local opinion. #LOCALANDVOCAL

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