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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Follow the money

As Wales prepares to go to the polls the South Wales Evening Post has come up with a timely reminder of how poor Labour-run councils really can be.

Welsh Labour Ministers often cite Neath Port Talbot as an example of how it should be done, but there is no Welsh Liberal Democrat-led Council with £20 million of taxpayers money tied up in Iceland and with no idea of when exactly they will be getting the money back.

The paper says that millions of pounds of taxpayers' money frozen in Icelandic banks for three years will remain there until at least this autumn because of ongoing court action:

Neath Port Talbot invested £20 million in four banks before the system failed in 2008.

So far two of the four have between them returned just over £6 million but the other two have not repaid a penny.

And there is little chance of the council seeing any of the £8 million tied up in the non-payers until late autumn or early winter because of a legal wrangle.

So that is £14 million hanging in the balance, pending a court hearing later this year. It is funny how Labour Ministers never use Neath Port Talbot's money management as good practice.
At least the street lights are all on, and you don't have to run a gauntlet of roadworks to get around the place.
The roadworks are a sign of significant investment and it is only a matter of time before Neath Port Talbot switch off lights. At least in Swansea we have not made our staff take a pay cut.
If you have evidence that the NPT cabinet forced union representatives to make their members' voluntary 2% sacrifice in return for job security, I would be interested to see it.
Peter, you might also have pointed out that Swansea City carried out its tenants vote fairly and openly, and has since kept its council house rent rise in line with WAG recommendations. NPT ex-tenants face a CPI-busting 6%, and councillors are no longer allowed to represent their constituents interests directly to NPT Homes' staff. At its last council meeting, Labour-run NPT voted not to express concern at the rent rise.
Peter, You've got it all wrong. I was told that there is a sort of cave, or disused old coal mine tunnel, up a valley in the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council NPTCBC area where they hoard the public money in order to keep their population deprived and poor just to keep the Labour Donkey Vote alive and kicking. Then they publicly blame the Icelandic Banks for their woes. NPTCBC is just one of only three out of twenty two Welsh Unitary Councils remaining controlled outright by Labour - who could have dreamed that a few years ago? Time has come to give a last "heave ho" to get rid of the Labour Party in Wales altogether. Will the Labour Donkey Vote hold, or will it further wane? The Security Services found Bin Laden. Will they ever find a bin laden with NPTCBC resources in a vault somewhere?
But there are Liberal Democrat controlled councils which did invest in Icelandic banks. Cambridge City Council, for example, invested £9 million. This is an issue that has no relationship to the political control of the Council. As you are aware Treasury management is a non political activity with strict guidelines when it comes to the investment of Council money. In all my experience of local goverment I've never come across a situation where councillors are directly involved in these investments. They are made by professional officers based on advice from specialised financial advisers. If any criticism has to be made it should be directed at either the professional advisers who failed to spot what was happening in Iceland or with officers in some authorities who ignored the advice to pull out of Icelandic investments.
In Swansea jeff, although the actual decisons are taken by officers and outside consultants the investment policies are agreed by Councillors. That is why Swansea was not caught up in this problem.
I agree with Peter. I am sure that NPT's previous leader (now safely in Europe), who was very hands-on, was very much involved in investment decisions.
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