News for Wednesfield – Saturday 2 May 2020

I am just one of 60 City Councillors on Wolverhampton Council. Here in Wednesfield North we have three City Councillors for our Ward.CouncillorsD3Qnd5YXoAgKmqU We three Councillors regularly talk about the issues in the Ward, and in the City Council. We are three different individuals, but we do work together very well. We make a strong team acting on your behalf.

In the last few weeks, I have turned my thoughts to what The City Council will be looking like financially when the Government finally starts its Covid19 ‘exit’ procedures.

I must admit that I have some severe worries about our City situation. I will be chatting to my other two colleagues in this next week about my concerns. However today I have decided that before we as Councillors get together by technology. I would share my thoughts with you the residents, and the readers of my Social Media sites. I also though that you may also benefit from what is happening in very different Local Authorities in other parts of the Country. This is what it is being reported that other Local Authorities are facing.

Like me these Councils worry that the support we have given during this crisis to Government will be ‘short changed’ by Government leaving our Authority depleted financially and a drift from the original budgets we had set.

Just as an example The LGiU report this morning said that
Oxford City Council leader Susan Brown has said that £1.5m in extra Government support falls “way short” of what the local authority needs to respond to coronavirus, warning that it could lose £11m in revenue this year. Elsewhere in the region, Oxfordshire County Council has been given an extra £12.6m on top of the £14.5m provided earlier, while the county’s other four district councils have been given a total of £5.4m extra help after initially receiving £192,671 to deal with coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Stockport Council in Greater Manchester has put the cost of its coronavirus response at £41m – leaving a shortfall of nearly £25m should further financially help from the Government not be forthcoming.

There has been alarm in local government after ministers’ language shifted from “whatever it takes” to supporting councils to “sharing the burden”. Stockport Council leader Elise Wilson said she had taken the Government on its word and would be “incredibly disappointed” if ministers did not deliver.

Now I may be pleasantly surprised, and I do so much hope I am.

But the evidence to date makes me very uneasy. The published support from Government for Wolverhampton has been.
Announced that – Wolverhampton allocation was First tranche £9,375,304 Second Tranche £7,278,499 total – £16,653,803

But as the Leader of Stockport Council said it would be ‘incredibly disappointing’ if the Government didn’t cover the extra costs for our City after it gave the nation those types of indications that it would.
If we look a little closer to home, our Express and Star are warning its readers in Sandwell today that the shape of the Sandwell Councils plans are likely to change after the Lockdown has been lifted. The Express and Star are indicating that Sandwell Council is indicating ‘Lost Jobs’ and ‘less money for services. Plus, they warn of the pandemics financial impact making it likely that the Borough Council will have to give examination as to whether it can deliver a balanced budget for 2020/21 and beyond.
All of these issues and more give me concerns as to the impact all this will have on the City of Wolverhampton, over the next weeks and months. I have written to the Director of Finance only recently expressing my anxieties.
Finally – the latest statistics I have for Wolverhampton’s Covid19 cases are – 812 cases which is an increase of +15
Deaths at the Royal Wolverhampton Trust stands at – 237 which is an increase of +3
UK cases 177,454 – (+6,201)
UK Deaths 27510 – (+739)

Finally, I do hope all my readers can join with me for just a minute to recognise the pain and suffering all these Covid19 individuals and their family and friends have faced during these last few weeks. My Sympathy and Condolences are with all those people who have lost loved ones.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more