St Ives finances - the Independent perspective

IF Michael Burke (Letters, December 29) is the same failed Conservative hopeful who stood at the last town council election, I am surprised he has so many questions about the town council’s finances.

Surely his own political colleagues, who controlled the last town council, are best placed to enlighten him as to “where all the town’s money has gone”.

Between 2001 and 2009, St Ives’s taxpayers contributed �700,000 in their Council Tax towards the Corn Exchange restoration fund. But, while the former council paid for expensive upgrading of The Waits and the playgrounds and planned other major projects such as the Hill Rise Cemetery extension, the Town Hall refurbishment and a Norris Museum extension, it failed to make adequate budget provision for any of these.

So, the council decided to sell the Corn Exchange, the people’s priority, and then set about plundering the Corn Exchange reserves. These transfers from the Corn Exchange reserves are a matter of public record. Also well documented in the Town Hall is the �150,000 that the previous council wasted on consultants and advisers before deciding to sell the building.

When the previous council was finally forced by the people of St Ives, the High Court and their own political masters in Huntingdon not to sell the Corn Exchange, they half-heartedly seized on a minimalist and inadequate scheme, at well below the �1million it previously said it was itself willing to afford.

This Independent-led council then completed the Town Hall refurbishment, and has fulfilled its election promise to restore the Corn Exchange, despite obstruction all the way in the council chamber by the minority Conservatives, and has given St Ives an amenity which is both viable and sustainable well into the future.

And at a cost of a little over �1million, I and many others in St Ives of my acquaintance conclude that this truly represents wonderful value for money.

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And as for the Council Tax increase, since May 2008 the Independent council has set two budgets, resulting in an annual increase in the St Ives Town Council element of Council Tax per [benchmark] Band D household of a total of �4 last year and �8 this year.

But why? To pay for the poor asset management and inadequate stewardship of the needs of a town like St Ives over many previous years.


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