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"NO WAR CHEST" CLAIM - AS WOLVES RESERVES GROW £7M

24-06-2009

Wolverhampton Council’s Finance boss insists she hasn’t been developing a “war chest” ahead of next year’s local elections – even though the city’s coffers have swollen by £7.6 million in the last 12 months against a background of service cuts.

Cllr Wendy Thompson insists that she’s beefed up the reserves to more than £29million to deal with anticipated reductions in government allocations and to deal with unpredictable demands such as the fallout from Single Status negotiations.

She said: “We’ve managed to add an extra £7.6 million by looking at all our costs, and seeing whether posts should be filled when they’ve fallen vacant.

“Also, as with Birmingham, there are changes to Social Services which improve the situation for older people, and as a by product they help us save as well.”

When quizzed directly on whether a war chest was being built up to allow for Council Tax cuts next year, Thompson commented: “I know that in opposition, I sat in meeting after meeting where costs were never discussed – and Wolverhampton has consistently been marked down by the Audit Commission on value for money,

“It’s very easy to spend other people’s money, but Wolverhampton has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country, and cash is scarce around here. People work very hard to earn it, so we shouldn’t waste it.”

Opposition Labour leader Roger Lawrence commented: “There was a lot of talk last year when they took over about a ‘black hole’ in the Council’s finances – but where is it?

“They are either building up a war chest for 2010 or the cost of cancelling the Axon [Business Transformation] contract is going to be far greater than anyone has guessed.

“Obviously they will say its ‘good housekeeping’. I’m sure the people who are being hit by the closure of Underhill House and Sweetman Street will be glad to know they are victims of ‘good housekeeping.’”

ARE WOLVERHAMPTON’S TORIES BUILDING A WAR CHEST – OR JUST SHOWING GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SKILLS? DISCUSS THIS ON THE STIRRER FORUM

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