|George Osborne - Not a fan of debt|
People are always saying to me "I don't see why I should pay Council Tax, I don't use any services". Let me transport you to a parallel world. In this world, I was elected to the Council at the last election. In this parallel world I am the worlds most right wing council leader. In May 2010, I abolished the Council. In a huge experiment, I said "If people want these services, they can organise them for themselves". As a result, no one pays any council tax at all ! Sound good? So what does this mean to you?
Well lets have a look.
All of the street lights in Barnet have been switched off. At night, Barnet is completely dark !
Your bins haven't been emptied for 3 1/2 years. If you want to get rid of your rubbish, you have to pay for a private contractor to come and take it away.
The trees in your road have been left to grow wild. If they fall down, they stay where they are.
The parks have been left to grow over. Every green space in Barnet which is owned by the council is now grown over. Playing fields have been let to grow wild. There are only private sports club pitches in Barnet. All cafes in Parks have closed.
The pavements are not being swept or maintained. If rubbish builds up and the rats take residence, then that is too bad. If you trip over on a broken paving stone, too bad. You voted to abolish the council.
The roads are not gritted in winter. If they get a pothole, they fall apart. All of the pelican crossings, traffic lights and lights on road signs have been switched off. If they fall down or get vandalised, that is too bad.
Every school managed by Barnet has been flogged off. If your kids want to go to school, you have to pay to go private.
Every library would have shut its doors, along with all Council lesiure centres and other facilities.
If you are infirm, old or disabled, then you have to pay for everything out of your own savings. If you cant afford it, then you can rot. There is no council.
No elderly people have bus passes because the Council has withdrawn from the scheme to maintain them.
If you live near a stream or on any low lying ground, your house is liable to flood when it rains, because brooks and streams are not maintaned.
There is no planning control, people can build what they like where they like. No one polices the green belt. This is now being built over at a rate unseen ever.
There is no noise or environmental control. There are now food site inspections. There are no planning constraints so people can open up any business anywhere. If they poison you, then you can always sue them.
Most of our major charities have dramatically scaled back their operations, because their council grants have been withdrawn.
The cemeteries have been sold off and redeveloped. You can only be buried in Barnet if you can afford a premium plot. Cremations are done by private companies who are unregulated.
Of course, you may say that the scenario above is ridiculous. Well it is and it isn't. You see the council have announced that they are cutting council tax by 1%. When the Tories took over in 2002, Council borrowing/debt was £38 million. It is now over £300 million, nearly ten times higher (http://www.barnet.gov.uk/downloads/download/1230/statement_of_accounts_2012-13 ). Whilst a prudent authority would be working to reduce this, the response of the Tories is to cut council tax. They are doing this because there is an election next year. Whilst nationally, the Coalition is working to cut debt and deficit, the Barnet Tories are living in a delusional dream world, where they have mortgaged our future for their ideologically motivated ends. Sooner or later someone will have to pay for this profligate attitude to finances. This will mean that every single one of the services listed above is likely to suffer. It is unlikely, but not impossible that a council could become bankrupt, if the economic situation meant the debts couldn't be paid. If that happened, the situation mentioned above could, at least partially,
come to pass.
No one likes to pay more tax. Like you, the extra cash will come in useful, but the truth is that all we are doing is putting off the day when we have to pay. Sooner or later, the residents of Barnet will awake with a huge hangover from the Tory party. The Tories were elected in 2002 on a manifesto of sorting out the finances. As debt has risen by ten times, they have failed. Cast your mind back to 2007, when Gordon Brown was announcing he'd abolished boom and bust. We were on a debt fuelled holiday. We've spent the best part of the last five years in recession and the economy has shrunk by a huge amount because we failed to recognise the risks of debt.
I went to a council cabinet meeting and raised this issue. No one in the cabinet had an answer, other than that "the accountants had assured them that debts were managable". As we all know, the accountants at Enron and RBS told their bosses the same thing. Whatever you may think about cuts, the issue of debt is one which only a fool will ignore. To cut tax without addressing this is in my opinion a mad folly.
You can read what the local paper are saying here. Sadly the issue of council debt is not mentioned.