Spending priorities of new Central Beds Council leadership will have to be affordable, meeting hears

“We have to live within our means, albeit absolutely the priorities may well change”
Central Bedfordshire Council headquarters, Chicksands.Central Bedfordshire Council headquarters, Chicksands.
Central Bedfordshire Council headquarters, Chicksands.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s new leadership may have different spending priorities, but they will have to be affordable, a meeting heard.

During yesterday’s Audit Committee (May 30), councillor Matthew Brennan (Labour, Dunstable North) asked if the council needed to amend its going concern disclosure.

“Because now that the council has changed to no overall control and there’s a new administration, it’s going to make different budgetary choices,” he said.

The council’s director of resources, Charles Warboys, replied that one of his statutory duties is to ensure that the council’s budget balances.

“That we can actually fund what our plans are,” he said.

“So whilst you are absolutely right in saying that the new administration may well have different priorities and want to spend more in some areas and less in others, I will ensure that whatever they want to spend is still affordable.

“We have to live within our means, albeit absolutely the priorities may well change.

“The whole political environment has changed, as you’re very well aware, very significantly for us as a council.

“Where I think we will particularly need to do some enhanced reporting is on the strategic risk register,” he said.

“Because, and this is absolutely not a political statement by me, but there is a danger because it’s a minority administration that the plans that they have may not be approved by full council.

“And it may well be that their priorities don’t actually materialise.

“We will absolutely have to recognize that, and again this is no criticism whatsoever, but it’s a fact [there’s] inexperience in a lot of our now leading councillors.

“They’ve not held office before, they’ve not been executive members before, and that does mean there is a risk to the council,” he explained

“So we will address that in the future strategic register, it’s not currently there because that was compiled before we knew the outcome of the election.

“But it won’t actually make a difference to whether we’re a going concern or not.

“We are a going concern because it takes primary legislation to abolish us, so in that sense, yes, of course we are,” he said.