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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Speech: Havering Budget 2024


On Wednesday 28th Havering Councillors met to debate the latest budget.


Despite being overshadowed by conversations about government funding, I felt it was vital to challenge the administration on the choices they still have. Their hands are not tied and I think they are using government funding as an excuse to not talk about some of what they are doing.


I only get 3 minutes to speak, so I focused on the cuts to special needs (SEND) school transport.


Watch my speech below, or read the transcript.





 

Transcript:


Madam Mayor.


Today’s budget is one of the most important set by Havering, and it isn’t a pleasant one.


Everyone in this chamber is in agreement that we need a better funding settlement from government.


Madam Mayor, let’s be clear. This funding crisis won’t go away because we make some statements here in this chamber. The truth is that all the talk about government funding won't justify the cuts that this administration is choosing to make.


So Instead of preaching to the choir on government funding, let’s talk about the choices we have.

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Let’s look at the decisions made by this budget.

£1 million was found to keep 30 minutes free parking in Hornchurch and Upminster, well not all of Hornchurch, the parts of Hornchurch that fall in Cllr Holt’s ward are being charged for.


Vast sums of money have continued to be found for the Queens Theatre. That’s a choice.

Recently, when caving into public pressure, the administration made a choice to reverse their plans to attack Romford’s funding for parking.

 

When it’s a decision to spend money, the Administration takes the credit and calls it ‘Their choice’.

 

So, conversely, the cuts are your choice.

£200k cut from the SEND transport budget – Their choice, not forced


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Focusing specifically on the choice to cut SEND funding, I want to highlight what out budget proposes.

We are saying keep funding at current levels. Very simple really.


We’re not saying “ignore the results of the consultation”, we’re not saying “don’t hold a review”, we’re not saying “don’t give parents a choice”.


What we are doing is acknowledging that no child or parent chooses a disability and most won’t suddenly recover from it. We acknowledge that there will be an increasing demand on our SEND services, and so reducing the budget is just foolishness.


You will overspend.


And where to we find the money to keep things as they are?


We made a choice, Madam Mayor.


We chose to provide housing for more vulnerable families, which saves us money to invest into SEND transport. Think of that for a moment, reduce homelessness, protect funding. Win, Win.


We chose to put an expensive consultation on hold, to protect vulnerable residents.

 

Madam Mayor, I watched the consultation report to the people Committee. Two Labour Councillors made comments I agree with


The consultation was biased. Another, and I paraphrase Madam Mayor, and “If we cut anything, the last thing we should cut is SEND transport".


I agree with both of those Labour Councillors.


SEND transport are not a financial problem, they are a people to be loved.



 

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