Greenwich Council cuts: What we know, what we don’t know

What we know: Greenwich Council’s “revenue spending power” is to be cut by 7.72% in 2011-2012 and by 4.4% in 2012-13. By comparison, next year Lewisham faces cuts of 6.49%, Bexley 2.79% and Bromley 2.46%. The London mayoralty faces a budget cut of 2.85%. Londonist has a colour-coded map of all the capital’s cuts, in which it’s clear how hard inner London will be hit.

In terms of cash, that’s £22.9m whipped out of the council coffers next year alone. Greenwich.co.uk has had a crack at the wider issues involved in yesterday’s announcement from communities secretary Eric Pickles.

What we don’t know: Is if this is the end of it. Most council funding is from a variety of central government grants – it’s entirely possible there’s more to come. Estimates suggested at a council meeting last week were between £47m and £95m; the council’s working on a total cut of £65m. There’s so far been no public reaction from the council leadership.

What we do know: Plans for an initial tranche of cuts were put before a committee of councillors last week. I understand there was some protest from councillors at the prospect of closing Maryon Wilson Park’s animal centre, while Conservatives insisted Greenwich Time be cut altogether (Labour has always insisted this will cost more money). There was also some disquiet about increasing parking charges, particularly in Eltham and New Eltham.

What we don’t know:
If those initial cuts are definitely going through. The council’s cabinet meets tonight to discuss them. (It’s open to the public – get to Woolwich Town Hall for 7pm.) A final decision will be taken by a full council meeting on 26 January.

What we do know: There’s a full council meeting tomorrow night at which the cuts will no doubt be discussed. It also provides an opportunity for members of the public to question leading councillors. Again, this starts at 7pm at Woolwich Town Hall.

What we definitely know: There’ll be a complaint at tomorrow night’s meeting about the pavements not being gritted properly, and in response, someone will say that Bexley Council barely bothered at all so Greenwich’s strategy is brilliant. If you go along, take a horn and honk it at that point. It could just be the most sensible contribution of the evening.

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