Penarth Town Council's headquarters at West House

Penarth Town Council’s headquarters at West House

A former Mayor, and senior Conservative member of Penarth Town Council, has accused the council’s ruling Labour Party of “taking fright” when the council’s true financial position was publicly revealed in last week’s chaotic meeting of  its ‘spending’ committees.

Until they received the financial reports last week , most councillors appeared to be unaware that  for the first time in its history Penarth Town Council is on track to spend well over a £1million pounds (£1,114,112 to be precise ) in the current financial year (2016/17).

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)  says that “it was blatantly obvious that the Labour Group (or at least individuals within that group) had taken fright at the size of the proposed Budget.”

He says that in a period of just 45 minutes  before the full committees began their deliberations last week, the Labour Group had met in a closed session [which is not open to the press],  and had decided “to slash a number of items”

As these cuts were made at the very last moment, there was no updated financial information available on paper for the Opposition Group councillors, or for the press .

Cllr Ernest says “What should have happened, in my opinion, was for a revised paper to be placed in front of every member indicating the changes, so that we had at least a window in which we could discuss the proposals before the meeting started. The other alternative would have been to delay the meeting for say 30 minutes, so as to achieve the above position.”

Cllr Ernest goes on to say “Quite frankly, I am stunned at the original figures presented for the total expenditure of the Council for 2017/18 – some £1,114,112 for Revised Budget 2016/17 against a Projection for 2017/18 of £618,031.

On the current year’s million-plus spend Cllr Ernest says ” I do not think that any of us on the Council, was aware that so much will have been spent in a 12 month period. The actual level of spend is a big surprise”.

In the red: Penarth Mayor,Leader of the Council, and Chairman of Finance Cllr Mike Cuddy

In the red: Penarth Mayor, Leader of the Council, and Chairman of Finance Cllr Mike Cuddy gets the blame for the surprisingly large spend which prompted some last minute budget cuts

Cllr Ernest makes no bones about laying the blame for the unexpectedly large spend at the door of Cllr Mike Cuddy, Leader of the Labour Group, who is the current Mayor of Penarth and also Chairman of Finance, who, he says “ should have ensured that Elected Members had accurate costings in front of them before the actual works proceeded. That has not happened.”

Penarth Town Councillor Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) supported the Labour Group

Penarth Town Councillor Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) supported the Labour Group

In last week budget meeting not all the members of the Conservative Group on the council opposed the Labour budget. Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) was seen to vote with the ruling Labour group.

It’s also  now emerged that later – on the last working day before the Christmas break –  Penarth town councillors were provided with rather more holiday reading than they may have bargained for. A further document – called “Approved Estimates” – was emailed-out to all councillors .

However Cllr Ernest says these “Approved Estimates”  only showed the basic costs of the council services for 2017/18,  but didn’t include overheads like staff salaries, National Insurance and Pensions  – an omission which makes it impossible to compare next year’s budget with this year’s


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  1. Chris David says:

    Looks a a bit of a shambles. Don’t they collectively plan and budget through he year so they are properly prepared for the annual budget meeting?

  2. Peter Church says:

    I sometimes get a little confused this time of year with all the booze and kids being over-excited.
    But, reading the latest stories on PDN I think I can summarise them as follows:

    The Labour cabinet has placed entire town council budget in the microwave to try and inflate it, but it caught fire and they needed rescuing by the coastguard helicopter as they all took fright and decided to jump over a cliff.

    Am I close?

  3. Chris Franks says:

    Surely the real story is not the chaos within Labour [who are finished for a decade] but the huge splits within the Tories?

    • Ann Other says:

      No, the real story is about possible incompetence in financial management.

      • Chris David says:

        Indeed. One gets the feeling from the reporting they are completely unstructured and scramble plan at the 11th hour. With one or two exceptions they also appear financially /mathematically inept.

  4. Frank Evans says:

    Even soon to be ex president Obama (darling og the snti Trump left) thinks labour under Corybn is barking mad. Why do the Welsh in particular still think they can govern?
    They have really lost the plot and deserve to be ousted. Might be a wake up call for some of our full time politicians who yours and my money like water.

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