This is a Government who are supporting councils with £10 billion of support, including more than £2 million to Gedling Borough Council here in Nottinghamshire, plus more to help ease financial burdens. This Government’s support for local councils has been unprecedented and generous and helped share the burden they face.
Our councils are so often on the frontline when it comes to delivering services. That is especially so in this pandemic, where they have done so much. I thank the staff at Nottinghamshire County Council and Gedling Borough Council for all the work they have done over the past year. From social care to keeping waste collections going, to making food packages at the Richard Herrod Centre in Carlton, council staff have kept the show on the road in difficult circumstances.
More generally, councils need to be well-run, and from where I am speaking, there is a tale of two councils. Conservative-led Nottinghamshire has been described by an LGA peer review as
“an effective council delivering good quality citizen-focused services to its residents.”
The report stated:
“There is financial stability in the organisation and the Council has a proven track record of delivering savings while maintaining front-line services over a long period of time—this is impressive.”
The council has halved the budget gap that it inherited from the previous Labour administration and kept discretionary services such as libraries open. It is set to make a balanced budget next year.
That is all in contrast with Labour-run Nottingham City Council, which we have already heard much about today, and for good reason. It is a council that is selling off assets to try to balance the budget, a council that organised a Christmas market that closed after one day and, infamously, a council that set up the now-failed Robin Hood Energy.
Robin Hood Energy had customers from far and wide—I believe the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was the most high-profile. While he and fellow Islingtonians might have benefited from cheaper energy prices, the collapse of the company will be felt by the working-class taxpayers of the Meadows, Sneinton and St Ann’s in the city, as Nottingham City Council seeks to make up for the tens of millions of pounds it has lost. For the residents of Nottinghamshire, the choice could not be more stark. I trust that in May the good folk of Nottinghamshire will choose wisely.