More affordable homes and a council tax freeze passed by Watford Borough Council

Borough council budget plans to include regeneration of St Albans Road

Borough council budget plans to include regeneration of St Albans Road

First published in News
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Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Web content editor

Affordable homes, park improvements and a more vibrant town centre have all been promised by Watford Borough Council’s budget.

Liberal Democrat councillors praised the council’s strong financial position, despite "a significant and continuing drop" in government grants and no net income from business rates.

Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said: "The headline is the level of Council Tax and the good news is we’re proposing a freeze. It has not increased in this mayoral term and is lower than in 2009.

"We have always been clear that the council has an active role in promoting the economic wellbeing of Watford.

"We have a good message, another freeze, a balanced budget, no service cuts, and no closure of popular facilities, and we’ve managed to put money back into reserves."

She promised more events in the town centre, anti-littering campaigns, more affordable homes, and improvements to parks.

Opposition councillors were quick to point out the £50,000 cut in funding for charities and community centres, the lion’s share of which coming from the Watford Women’s Centre for domestic violence.

Labour leader Nigel Bell attacked the Lib Dems' "complacent" budget and put forward his party’s proposal, which included taking £1.5 million from reserves to regenerate St Albans Road.

Councillor Bell said: "This is a responsible budget friendly to business and families. The bulk of the money would be spent on the regeneration of St Albans Road.

"We would talk to traders and residents and finally get something done for a desperately needed part of the town that has been left out by this administration."

The alternative proposal also included funding for the women’s centre, an anti-social behaviour officer, and a freeze in CPZ fees, while cutting the mayor’s salary - and Liberal Democrat hospitality budget.

Councillor Bell added: "Is it biscuits or sandwiches? I don’t know, but it comes to over £1,000 a year.

"This is a complacent budget from a complacent and self-satisfied liberal democrat mayor and council.

"You would not believe that staff had lost their jobs in the last few years and that her Government has led an attack on local government finance with a 35 per cent cut since 2010, leading to the £5 million cuts to Watford finances."

Councillor Bell criticised the privatisation of services, errors in revenues and benefits, and the £4.5 million "bridge to nowhere" in The Parade.

He added: "While this is all going on St Albans Road is crying out for regeneration as it has been waiting since the mayor was elected 12 years ago.

"This is why our responsible budget proposes using reserves specifically for St Albans Road to work with and ask the traders and residents there for their input and what they see as the way forward."

Liberal Democrat councillor Iain Sharpe called the Labour budget and plans for St Albans Road "negativity, begrudgery and the odd pie in the sky".

He added: "We do not have a significant land holding, we don’t own the shops and we are not the highways authority so what we can do is limited.

"This is a number you’ve plucked out of the air, what you have done was frankly waffle. You haven’t said a single thing you would like the money spend it. Put forward a proposal and we will start to look at it.

"Given the legacy they left, taking lectures in council finance from one of the worst performing councils in the country is frankly like taking lessons on fire safety from a couple of arsonists. They are the last people in Watford who are in a position to lecture anyone on this."

The Liberal Democrat budget was passed.

Comments (9)

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12:33pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Phil Cox (UKIP) says...

Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance?

Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour?

I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.
Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance? Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour? I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't. Phil Cox (UKIP)
  • Score: 1

12:34pm Thu 30 Jan 14

AlbansWoodBear says...

We learnt to our detriment Labour’s record with finances both locally, and nationally, so would agree that we shouldn’t take lessons from Labour’s two leading councillors of Nigel Bell and Jagtar “shyster” Singh – the tweedle dum and tweddle dee of Watford’s Council Chamber – a “zero” rise, no cuts in services, and a record of achievement that’s acknowledged by residents in regular surveys – the current administration deserve credit in these difficult times
We learnt to our detriment Labour’s record with finances both locally, and nationally, so would agree that we shouldn’t take lessons from Labour’s two leading councillors of Nigel Bell and Jagtar “shyster” Singh – the tweedle dum and tweddle dee of Watford’s Council Chamber – a “zero” rise, no cuts in services, and a record of achievement that’s acknowledged by residents in regular surveys – the current administration deserve credit in these difficult times AlbansWoodBear
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Phil Cox (UKIP) says...

AlbansWoodBear wrote:
We learnt to our detriment Labour’s record with finances both locally, and nationally, so would agree that we shouldn’t take lessons from Labour’s two leading councillors of Nigel Bell and Jagtar “shyster” Singh – the tweedle dum and tweddle dee of Watford’s Council Chamber – a “zero” rise, no cuts in services, and a record of achievement that’s acknowledged by residents in regular surveys – the current administration deserve credit in these difficult times
It depends how you look at it.

It's easier to look good if those who went before you were awful.

it's easier to look like you are cutting or holding taxes if your budget was too high in the first place and there was lots of fat.

I am sure if she had her way she would be raising taxes and spending wastefully. It's only the political climate that has made her more responsible, not common sense or decency and respect for the taxpayers.
[quote][p][bold]AlbansWoodBear[/bold] wrote: We learnt to our detriment Labour’s record with finances both locally, and nationally, so would agree that we shouldn’t take lessons from Labour’s two leading councillors of Nigel Bell and Jagtar “shyster” Singh – the tweedle dum and tweddle dee of Watford’s Council Chamber – a “zero” rise, no cuts in services, and a record of achievement that’s acknowledged by residents in regular surveys – the current administration deserve credit in these difficult times[/p][/quote]It depends how you look at it. It's easier to look good if those who went before you were awful. it's easier to look like you are cutting or holding taxes if your budget was too high in the first place and there was lots of fat. I am sure if she had her way she would be raising taxes and spending wastefully. It's only the political climate that has made her more responsible, not common sense or decency and respect for the taxpayers. Phil Cox (UKIP)
  • Score: -3

4:47pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Helen_watford says...

Oh its Derek Scudder = Albans Wood Bear. You've outed yourself. Chief Troll for the Lib Dems.
I heard about your antics at the council last night - some of my Lib Dem friends were completed embarrassed by his ridiculous behaviour calling Councillor Dhindsa a shyster.
Oh its Derek Scudder = Albans Wood Bear. You've outed yourself. Chief Troll for the Lib Dems. I heard about your antics at the council last night - some of my Lib Dem friends were completed embarrassed by his ridiculous behaviour calling Councillor Dhindsa a shyster. Helen_watford
  • Score: 1

4:49pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Helen_watford says...

Phil Cox (UKIP) wrote:
Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance?

Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour?

I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.
Its the principle why should tax payers money be spent on cakes and burgers for Lib Dem councillors, while at the same time making people redundant.
[quote][p][bold]Phil Cox (UKIP)[/bold] wrote: Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance? Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour? I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.[/p][/quote]Its the principle why should tax payers money be spent on cakes and burgers for Lib Dem councillors, while at the same time making people redundant. Helen_watford
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Phil Cox (UKIP) says...

Helen_watford wrote:
Phil Cox (UKIP) wrote:
Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance?

Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour?

I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.
Its the principle why should tax payers money be spent on cakes and burgers for Lib Dem councillors, while at the same time making people redundant.
Hi Helen, always nice to see your posts,

I don't know the reason behind the budget so can't comment properly. There is often in any large organisation a budget for refreshments so I would need to know more before commenting about that particular budget.

It does seem a little bit of point scoring over a very minor issue compared to all the money that is spent by the council and my point stands there should be much bigger targets to focus on rather than what looks like, on the surface at least, petty point scoring of one party over another.

Did they not have biscuits under Labour? Not even custard creams? Come on, look at other councils, Labour ones. Labour normally wastes unbelievable amounts of money so £1000 for a years biscuits and tea is but a drop in the ocean in the general scheme of things.

That said, if it's unwarranted for some reason, it should be stopped, but it wouldn't be the top of my priorities if I were a councillor, particularly if I had just pulled a figure out of the air like £1,500,000 to be spent on a project that doesn't have to be done.

do you see now why it might look a little petty to the casual observer. I've seen Nigel in action and I know his heart is in the right place, I'm just not sure he's selecting the right targets.
[quote][p][bold]Helen_watford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Phil Cox (UKIP)[/bold] wrote: Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance? Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour? I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.[/p][/quote]Its the principle why should tax payers money be spent on cakes and burgers for Lib Dem councillors, while at the same time making people redundant.[/p][/quote]Hi Helen, always nice to see your posts, I don't know the reason behind the budget so can't comment properly. There is often in any large organisation a budget for refreshments so I would need to know more before commenting about that particular budget. It does seem a little bit of point scoring over a very minor issue compared to all the money that is spent by the council and my point stands there should be much bigger targets to focus on rather than what looks like, on the surface at least, petty point scoring of one party over another. Did they not have biscuits under Labour? Not even custard creams? Come on, look at other councils, Labour ones. Labour normally wastes unbelievable amounts of money so £1000 for a years biscuits and tea is but a drop in the ocean in the general scheme of things. That said, if it's unwarranted for some reason, it should be stopped, but it wouldn't be the top of my priorities if I were a councillor, particularly if I had just pulled a figure out of the air like £1,500,000 to be spent on a project that doesn't have to be done. do you see now why it might look a little petty to the casual observer. I've seen Nigel in action and I know his heart is in the right place, I'm just not sure he's selecting the right targets. Phil Cox (UKIP)
  • Score: 0

5:15pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Helen_watford says...

Hi Phil,

the "biscuits gate" was probably a point scoring point - but it is silly that the Lib Dems have ended up budgeting this for themselves at a time of austerity. Most councils are cutting these costs NOW. It doesn't seem the Lib Dems are.
It exemplifies the Lib Dem attitude in the Town Hall of utter arrogance - not sure if you have experienced it.

Your view of St Albans Road is shared by people living in the area or the businesses. It needs desperate investment, and Labours point was that the money should be made available for local traders, businesses and residents to use as they see fit for the improvement of the area. The £1.5 comes form the economic impact reserve - thats the reason for having the reserve in the first place.
The Lib Dems splashed out £4.5million on paving slabs in the Town Centre, yet have ignored St Albans Road for years.
Hi Phil, the "biscuits gate" was probably a point scoring point - but it is silly that the Lib Dems have ended up budgeting this for themselves at a time of austerity. Most councils are cutting these costs NOW. It doesn't seem the Lib Dems are. It exemplifies the Lib Dem attitude in the Town Hall of utter arrogance - not sure if you have experienced it. Your view of St Albans Road is shared by people living in the area or the businesses. It needs desperate investment, and Labours point was that the money should be made available for local traders, businesses and residents to use as they see fit for the improvement of the area. The £1.5 comes form the economic impact reserve - thats the reason for having the reserve in the first place. The Lib Dems splashed out £4.5million on paving slabs in the Town Centre, yet have ignored St Albans Road for years. Helen_watford
  • Score: -1

10:42pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Phil Cox (UKIP) says...

Helen_watford wrote:
Hi Phil,

the "biscuits gate" was probably a point scoring point - but it is silly that the Lib Dems have ended up budgeting this for themselves at a time of austerity. Most councils are cutting these costs NOW. It doesn't seem the Lib Dems are.
It exemplifies the Lib Dem attitude in the Town Hall of utter arrogance - not sure if you have experienced it.

Your view of St Albans Road is shared by people living in the area or the businesses. It needs desperate investment, and Labours point was that the money should be made available for local traders, businesses and residents to use as they see fit for the improvement of the area. The £1.5 comes form the economic impact reserve - thats the reason for having the reserve in the first place.
The Lib Dems splashed out £4.5million on paving slabs in the Town Centre, yet have ignored St Albans Road for years.
I can't say I disagree with that at all. You're a good poster Helen, post more.
[quote][p][bold]Helen_watford[/bold] wrote: Hi Phil, the "biscuits gate" was probably a point scoring point - but it is silly that the Lib Dems have ended up budgeting this for themselves at a time of austerity. Most councils are cutting these costs NOW. It doesn't seem the Lib Dems are. It exemplifies the Lib Dem attitude in the Town Hall of utter arrogance - not sure if you have experienced it. Your view of St Albans Road is shared by people living in the area or the businesses. It needs desperate investment, and Labours point was that the money should be made available for local traders, businesses and residents to use as they see fit for the improvement of the area. The £1.5 comes form the economic impact reserve - thats the reason for having the reserve in the first place. The Lib Dems splashed out £4.5million on paving slabs in the Town Centre, yet have ignored St Albans Road for years.[/p][/quote]I can't say I disagree with that at all. You're a good poster Helen, post more. Phil Cox (UKIP)
  • Score: -1

12:54pm Fri 31 Jan 14

garston tony says...

Phil Cox (UKIP) wrote:
Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance? Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour? I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.
Considering some of your posts in the past over other spending i'm surprised you now arent bothered about the daily biscuit allowance. Sorry but you have just confirmed you are no better than any other party and are only interested in political point scoring.

Yes there are other things to tackle, but look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves is an apt saying. How many other things that cost a grand here and a grand there arent being challenged that could add up to a significant amount, maybe enough to save someones job or a service that is being cut?

Seeing as your standing for mayor whose salary and associated costs of office are a burden on the council will you agree with the cllr who has called for the salary to be cut by £13k? That would be a significant start dont you think?
[quote][p][bold]Phil Cox (UKIP)[/bold] wrote: Has Nigel Bell really nothing better to worry about that £4 a day biscuit allowance? Nigel, the council spends millions, why not tackle the bigger issues first? Railling against biscuits just makes the Labour party sound petty. How much was it, out of interest, in the days of Labour? I've never thought of Labour as a party that spent money responsibly. I still don't.[/p][/quote]Considering some of your posts in the past over other spending i'm surprised you now arent bothered about the daily biscuit allowance. Sorry but you have just confirmed you are no better than any other party and are only interested in political point scoring. Yes there are other things to tackle, but look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves is an apt saying. How many other things that cost a grand here and a grand there arent being challenged that could add up to a significant amount, maybe enough to save someones job or a service that is being cut? Seeing as your standing for mayor whose salary and associated costs of office are a burden on the council will you agree with the cllr who has called for the salary to be cut by £13k? That would be a significant start dont you think? garston tony
  • Score: 0

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