Summary response to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council Budget for 2017/2018

February 16, 2017 1:10 PM
By Cllr Malcolm Cowan

We asked the council to focus on reducing the following items:

1. £200k predicted loss at Humphrey's cafe at Campus West.

Unbelievable. This is open up to 12 hours a day and should be a license to print money, not to lose it. Copious amounts of wine are purchased by customers for some of the film nights.

2. 150k to resurface the Campus West car park.

Sounds like a gold-plated job. Have they had alternate quotes?

3. Replacing cars that have done 19,000 miles and 55,000 miles on the grounds they are around 5 years old.

An email from Ka Ng to Malcolm Cowan states mileages as:

  • Street warden vehicles: 129,095 miles and 55,758 miles respectively;
  • Courier vehicle 94,500 miles;
  • Superintendent vehicle 19,000 miles;

Following our enquiry, it is now stated the latter may be put back, but it is still in the budget papers as 2017/18.

4. High Ropes. Gross income unchanged at 15k, predicting a small loss overall.

This was to be the feature that would pay for Splashlands, which is years late and still on the drawing board.

5. Routine maintenance budget same as current year despite predictions they would be underspent by £130k.

We would use the money saved to:

  • Increase planning and enforcement staff. A WHT report last year described how their workload is excessive and they are paid less than neighbouring councils, hence many do not stay long.
  • An additional anti-social behaviour officer to help deal with the persistent problems in Woodhall and around.
  • A larger tree pruning budget, so the council's trees are kept to an appropriate size.
  • More parking spaces in residential areas

We criticised the unreliability of virtually new equipment in the council chamber and lack of the promised streaming.