Archive for James Hockney

Conservatives warn of Croydon Scenario due to debt levels mounting

Enfield Council’s debt level is spiraling out of control. The Labour run Council has amassed a £1 billion of outstanding debt. The figures were reported in the Treasury Management Report which was discussed at the November Full Council meeting.

Borrowing figures are worrying as it is potentially putting Enfield Council on the same path as Croydon which effectively has gone bankrupt with a debt level not much different to our own council.

The Council has moved past £1bn of debt. This would have been £200m higher had COVID-19 not delayed investment plans. Despite, Conservatives making constant representations at Full Council meetings of the risks, the Labour Administration is still wedded to doubling the debt to reach over £2bn in the next five years.

The irony is that there is very little to show for the borrowing undertaken. Hundreds of millions have been borrowed in order to develop at Meridian but not a single home has been built. The council’s energy company has yet to make a profit.

Interest on the borrowing is paid from the revenue account meaning that money used to fund everyday services that residents crucially rely on.

Councillor Joanne Laban, Leader of the Opposition and Conservative Group, said “Croydon effectively going bankrupt should be a wake-up call for the Labour Administration here in Enfield. The Conservative Group will be informing the Secretary of State of its concerns as we do not wish to see Enfield Council going the same way as Croydon.”

Councillor James Hockney, Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance, said “This Council continues to borrow like there is no tomorrow; ignoring the stark warning signs. They still cannot explain why, pre-covid, they changed course from paying off their debt to instead more than doubling an eye watering level of existing debt. They are playing monopoly with the people’s money”.

News Update: Enfield / Edmonton A10 Road safety

The Traffic Police have updated me on a number of key items, that I thought would be useful to share including regarding the average speed cameras on the northern section of the Enfield Borough A10 stretch.
(1) Although there is less racing and general speeding, we are still seeing high levels of speeding on the Enfield Borough A10. Incredibly, it accounts for 12% of all speeding offences across the whole of London.
(2) In the last 12 months we have not thankfully seen anyone killed or seriously injured on the A10. This is a stark contrast to previous years; the fact we had enhanced traffic Police and now average speed cameras covering half the Enfield Borough stretch cannot be a coincidence.
(3) 75% of offences are handled by a Speed Awareness Course.
(4) Enforcement of the average speed cameras is not an average over the course of the cameras. But between two cameras.
(5) All fines go to a central fund that is then shared with the public services – the No.1 recipient is the NHS at 22%.
(6) Any anti-social driving, racing, illegal activity etc can be reported to the Police.
(7) The community campaigning was key to seeing the average speed cameras being installed on the northern section of the A10.

Enfield Conservative Group commends small businesses ahead of Small Business Saturday

Businessmen and women across Enfield Borough have been commended for the part they have played in responding to the coronavirus pandemic to mark Small Business Saturday.

This year, Small Business Saturday comes at the end of a hugely challenging period for small businesses, with many facing long periods of closure and reduced income due to the pandemic.

Enfield Conservative Group has praised businesses across  Enfield Borough (Enfield, Edmonton & Enfield Southgate) for stepping in to support the local community throughout 2020.

Throughout the course of pandemic, the Government has provided more than £280 billion to support lives and livelihoods. This includes:

  • The furlough scheme has supported 1 in 3 jobs in Enfield Borough.
  • Grants for the self-employed totalling £99.5million pounds in Enfield Borough, which have been made more generous in light of recent national and local lockdown announcements.
  • Loans and Government-backed grants which have helped businesses facing severely reduced income because of pandemic.
  • VAT cuts and business rates holidays for many small businesses, including those in the hospitality and retail sectors.

The Conservative Government is determined not to be blown off course by the pandemic and deliver on its promise, made at the General Election one year ago, to level up towns and communities across the whole country. To aid this, the Chancellor has recently announced a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund to improve the infrastructure people and businesses rely on every day, following the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, and £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, which are helping to transform town centres across the country.

Commenting, Shadow Finance, Cllr James Hockney said:

“There’s no doubting just how challenging 2020 has been for small businesses, which are the backbone of Enfield Borough and the communities of Enfield, Edmonton and Enfield Southgate.

“We’ve seen local businesses step up to help our community time and time again this year, and I pay tribute to all of those who have played their part in getting us through the pandemic.

“With restrictions on retail now lifted, I hope everyone who can and can safely support our independent small businesses in the run up to Christmas, as this Conservative Government works to ensure as many as possible are able to thrive into 2021.”

Enfield Council Company records losses of over half a million £; Yet pays two Directors more than the PM

Energetik, the Council funded energy company has reported a loss of over half a million pounds in recently published accounts.

Whilst at the same time two Directors are paid more than the Prime Minister. Enquiries made by the Conservatives have shown that one Directors salary is £175,000 and the other £220,000.

It is one of several council owned companies established by the Labour administration a few years ago, pumping in hundreds of millions of pounds of loans, secured by the Council lent on to the companies, including Energetik. The intention was that they would generate healthy revenues for the council.
An accompanying shareholder notice from the Managing Director states that the company made a loss of £569,000 in 2019/20. This was mainly due to delayed commencement of construction of the company’s Meridian Water energy centre and heat network to match the build out of the main housing development scheme, and the commensurate delay to capital expenditure and associated loan and interest payments.
Sadly, Enfield Council has an appalling track record when it comes to setting up companies. For instance Independence and Wellbeing Ltd (IWE) was set up by the Council to provide adult social care was wound-up recently after less than five years because of high administrative costs.

Shadow Finance, Councillor James Hockney said, “It is a quite incredible state of affairs at the Council. Not only is the Council pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into these companies, but we are seeing losses like this and salaries exceeding that of the Prime Minister. The whole point of setting up companies is they make a profit and support Council services”.

“We have already seen recently that IWE went was wound up. The whole approach of the Labour administration needs to be brought into question following one company being wound up and another company losing money that is paying Directors significant salaries”.
“Half a million pounds could, for instance, could provide ten thousand local low income households with decades worth of low energy lightbulbs”.

£1.1m to help Enfield Borough vulnerable children and families

The Government has announced £1,149,542.86 to further support vulnerable children and families in Enfield Borough this Winter.

  • Enfield Borough Council to receive £1,149,542.86 from government for food and supplies for vulnerable households as part of £170 million package
  • Extension of school holiday programme providing food and activities for young people also announced
  • Prime Minister reaffirms Conservatives’ commitment to preventing childhood hunger

Families that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and need extra support this winter with food and bills will benefit from a new £170 million scheme unveiled by the Government.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme will see councils across England share £170 million in additional, ring-fenced funding to help vulnerable families and individuals, with Enfield Borough Council receiving £1,149,542.86.

This will prevent children from going hungry this winter and ensure local families get the help they need. It builds on the £63 million already provided to councils this year to assist those struggling to buy food and essentials.

A further £220 million will be invested in extending the Holiday and Food Programme until next Christmas, meaning that all children eligible for Free School Meals will have the option to join a holiday-time programme that provides healthy food and fun activities during the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays next year.

Commenting, Councillor James Hockney, Shadow Finance said:

“No child should ever go hungry, and the extra £1,149,542.86 for Enfield Borough Council will ensure local families that need extra support with food and bills this winter can access it, which is very welcome news.

“I’m also pleased that the Prime Minister has announced the extension of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which provides healthy food and activities for children during the school holidays and has a massive impact on disadvantaged young people in our community, to cover Easter, Summer and Christmas next year.

Enfield Borough Conservatives welcome spending review

Enfield Borough ConservativesSpending Review shows Conservatives commitment to fight coronavirus, deliver on its promises and invest in our recovery

Enfield Borough Conservatives have welcomed the Spending Review which provides billions of pounds in the fight against coronavirus, delivers on the Conservative’s promises it has made to the British people and invests in the UK’s recovery.

The Government set out an ambitious plan that focuses on levelling up across the country, investing in vital infrastructure that will ensure the UK builds back better from coronavirus.

The Spending Review commits to billions of pounds to help tackle coronavirus next year, including £18 billion to fund our programmes on community testing, test and trace, PPE and vaccines.

£100 billion capital spending including infrastructure to drive UK’s recovery and support jobs – levelling up across the United Kingdom as we build back better from coronavirus.

Great news for London and Enfield Borough

Schools: Ensuring every child has the best start in life by boosting per pupil funding. Schools in London will receive £6.7 billion in per-pupil funding through the schools block – an average per-pupil increase of 2.3 per cent compared to 20-21.

Hospitals: Improving health services in London. We are building 6 hospitals and continuing to grow medical undergraduate degree places, with an additional 137 places in London compared to 2017-18.

Transport: Continuing to address capacity issues by financing the completion of Crossrail.

Crime: Tackling crime by recruiting more police officers. London will benefit from a share of 6,000 new police officers in 2021-22.

Homes: Unlocking new homes in the region. London will benefit from over £600 million in funding across 13 projects as part of the marginal viability and forwarding funding elements of the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

Jobs: 1,385,500 London jobs supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Business: Over 269,000 London businesses supported through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme and the Bounce Back Loans Scheme with loans worth £11.4 billion.

Commenting, Shadow Finance, Councillor James Hockney said:

“While the health emergency facing our country is not yet over, the economic emergency has only just begun. The Chancellor’s Spending Review tackles this unprecedented situation directly – ensuring lives and livelihoods in Enfield Borough are protected and supported in the weeks and months ahead.

“The steps taken by the Government have provided a floor under the Enfield and Edmonton Economy, protecting 1 in 3 jobs through the furlough, self-employed support with many businesses receiving a raft of measures including grants and loans”.

Councillor Joanne Laban, Leader of the Opposition and Conservative Group said:

“The Chancellor’s announcements today of another £1.55 billion to local authorities to meet additional expenditure as a result of COVID-19 and the additional investment in housing is tackling the current issues head on. The extra money for the Troubled Families Programme is particularly pleasing as it will provide intensive support to families facing multiple problems.”

Getting action to clear leaves on pavements.

As Bush Hill Park Councillor I have been working with residents over past couple of weeks regarding leaves clearance.

This was on noticing on my community walks the amount of leaves on pavements.

Many suffer trips and falls on slippery pavements, especially if the leaves are covering pavement faults. The impact of a fall can have serious implications for the person suffering the accident.

This is why I have been pressing the Council for action.

Please see the current situation;

Completed: Amberley Road, Bagshot Road, Abbey Road (have flagged residents feedback), Wellington Road, Solna Road.

Finishing Tomorrow: Edenbridge Road

Finishing this week: Gardenia Road, Park Avenue, Lynmouth Avenue, Queen Annes Place.

Kerb/drain sweeper this week: Delhi Road.

Awaiting to hear on: Amberley Gardens, First Avenue, Halstead Road, Third Avenue, Summerhill Grove, Park Avenue, Countisbury Road, Queen Anne’s Place, Illingworth Way and Halstead Gardens.

 

If you have any roads that need resolving please let me know.

 

Tackling crime in Bush Hill Park – latest CAPE meeting

Last night the latest Bush Hill Park CAPE meeting took place. The CAPE brings together local residents, businesses and the Police to discuss local issues and to prioritize two or three issues local issues to focus on.

Overall crime remained the same for the month of October compared to September with 32 crimes reported. The largest issue continues to be vehicle crime with 15 reported offences last month. Sadly we already know that for the month of November many keyless car thefts have taken place.

A range of other issues were discussed, including; the continued spate of burglaries, dangerous speeding (and accidents) along Halstead Road & Firs Lane, A10 speeding and anti-social behaviour around the Bush Hill Park Station / Firs Farm Wetlands.

It was agreed that the three key issues for this month will be: Motor vehicle crime, Burglary, anti-social behaviour / cars speeding.

 

Extra Policing resource for Halstead Road and Firs Lane speeding

At the local Bush Hill Park crime panel (CAPE) the issue of speeding was discussed in the Halstead Road / Firs Lane area. The local Police have access to speed guns and will put resource for an ongoing operation in the area.

This is welcome news, however in the longer term only a permanent solution of road safety measures will suffice.

Local residents have done a sterling job petitioning and emailing the Council for action. This is in addition to our own efforts as local Councillors pressing for action on speeding issues along Firs Lane, Halstead Road, Firs Park Avenue area.

Recently we have seen another spike; with many accidents taking place in the past week alone. This familiar site of cars driven to excess and then, inevitably lose control and smash into residents parked cars.

Whilst the Police efforts are welcome, the Council needs to come up with permanent solutions; they must be aimed at improving road safety, formally consulted with local residents and securing broad support before being put in place.

I have continued to ask the Council for a virtual meeting with local residents to move the issue forward.

We will continue to press Enfield Borough Council for action. 

Fir Farms Wetlands Update – some good news

Firs Farm Wetlands is a jewel in the crown of Bush Hill Park, being an oasis where people can walk and sit to reflect in peaceful surroundings.

There have been an ongoing number of issues and convened a meeting between the Friends Group and the Council to see what could be done.

One important piece of context; is since the March lockdown there has been a 136% increase of footfall.

Litter: There has been a sharp increase of general litter around the park and in the bins. The Council have stepped up their activity of both litter picks and empty of bins.

Flytipping: Especially at the front of the Wetlands, fly tipping has increased. The location is on the watch list of sites which should help with clearances.

Bins, bins, bins: We need more bins on site and the Council has agreed to supply six extra on site in the near future. There is additional potential funding should it be required.

Rats: The wetlands has seen a sharp increase in the rat population due to litter and feeding of wildlife, in the interim the Council will look at a pest control solution.

Signage: Different signs are needed, especially in relation to people and pets going into the ponds, which is not safe to due and impacts on the wildlife in the ponds.

Maintenance: Improvements are needed on pipe blockages into the ponds, weeds growing through pavements and general upkeep of the grassed areas and wildflower areas. It was agreed to arrange a site visit to look at these problems in more detail for a resolution.

Certainly a productive meeting and an example of good partnership working!