Residents’ Association leader admits they have led Epsom & Ewell Borough Council into a £5.8 million financial black hole
This week, in Council chambers, the Epsom and Ewell Residents’ Association leader, Eber Kington, revealed that the Council is facing a £5.8 million black hole.
It is due to huge sums being spent on temporary accommodation for vulnerable people as the council previously sold off all of its council housing, huge losses at its Bourne Hall and Playhouse venues, and the impact of Covid.
In response, the Residents’ Association leadership has decided to hammer local people with council tax rises and are raiding the Council’s strategic reserves to plug the gap.
Residents’ Association leader, Eber Kington, was unapologetic at Tuesday’s Council Meeting while imposing yet another increase in Council tax despite so many people being hit hard by the pandemic.
He stated that the increase was necessary to bring in a further £164,000 to reduce the deficit that has been escalating rapidly under his watch.
The enormous £5.8M deficit for 2020/21 is due in part to the negative impact of Covid on Council finances estimated at £3.8 million.
Labour Party analysis has identified further issues that are deepening the deficit:
– £1.6 million being spent on temporary accommodation for homeless families and
– very large losses, estimated to be around £750,000 this year, at the Council’s flagship venue Bourne Hall. This is on top of last year’s losses at Bourne Hall of £500,000.
Mr. Kington warned that even after cost cuts and council tax hikes the Council was facing a financial hole of almost £1 million, “Even with the agreement of savings from the service reviews the Council is still requiring to address an annual deficit of £920k by 2023/24.” The financial black hole appears really to be larger.
Labour Group leader, Kate Chinn, called for a more inventive approach to fix the financial crisis:
“Does this council wish to be involved in driving more of its residents towards foodbanks and poverty through council tax hikes? The residents of Epsom and Ewell need all the financial support possible right now to mitigate the impact Covid-19 is having on their lives. What they don’t need is yet another council tax rise.
“The Epsom and Ewell Labour Group believes that a change in where and how the Council allocates funds can prevent the need to increase council tax and start to tackle the structural deficit that is emerging.”
Labour called for the Council to:
1) convert local unused office space into social housing to reduce the £1.6M yearly bill for homeless families and bring in revenue to the Council
2) urgently review the £750k financial black hole at the Council’s venue Bourne Hall and
3) implement more modern management methods in parks and green spaces, such as more wildflowers and less formal planting, to save money and enhance wildlife.”
Labour is also calling for a review of the Council’s chaotic management of Bourne Hall.
In response, all the other main political parties were also critical of the Residents Association budget and no other party’s members voted for it.
Councillor Chinn added after the meeting:
“The Residents Association’s tired old ways are leading Epsom and Ewell Council into a financial black hole. Even after council tax hikes and cost cuts, the Residents Association are projecting a deficit of almost £1 million in 2023/24.
“With more modern thinking, the Council could be providing much better services to local residents at a significantly lower Council Tax cost.
“Epsom & Ewell Labour will continue to fight for local residents’ best interests.”