Tory Suffolk County Councillors spent all their Highways Locality Budget before the May elections, or so the story went.
On 9 July 2021 the East Anglian Daily Times reported here that “Cabinet member Paul West, who represents Bixley division in Ipswich, was one of two councillors to spend every penny of his locality budget.”
It is now abundantly clear that this was nothing more than a very thinly veiled accounting trick. A Freedom of Information request I filed with the County Council in May revealed the projects that the money had supposedly been ‘spent’ on. In Councillor West’s case this included £5,000 to repair chevron brickwork on the busy Colchester Road / Rushmere Road Roundabout.
Several months on there is still no sign of any work on the roundabout (pictured below) with numerous weeds growing amongst a large pile of broken bricks.
Meanwhile over in Whitton & Whitehouse Division, the Kafkaesque Local Highways Budget scheme ensured that Tory Councillor David Goldsmith was unable to deliver a single physical improvement on the ground during his entire four year term of office. He managed only to spend a few hundred pounds on designs and publicity.
Miraculously, a few weeks before the election Cllr Goldsmith suddenly came up with a plan to blow £60,000 (almost all his remaining budget) resurfacing pavements in Congreve Road. This left him with a notional £341.25 left unspent. Just like the Colchester Road / Rushmere Road Roundabout, months on there is no sign of any work on the ground.
These were blatant election gimmicks executed by the Tories with the sole intention pulling the wool over voter’s eyes with questionable claims to have spent all their budget on local improvements. In reality of course, nothing of the sort had happened, and it still hasn’t.