Despite Trafford Labour MP and Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP having to apologise for saying that Labour should not “let a good crisis go to waste”, Trafford Labour are still seeking to create political opportunity out of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether it is the Labour Council administration trying to scaremonger that the Council was about to go bankrupt, which resulted in the Council’s Chief Executive having to write to staff to reassure them that the Council was not about to go bankrupt; or through bringing a Motion to the latest Council meeting which demanded that the Government bail the Council out for its mismanagement of the finances.
Trafford borough however has already benefitted from a huge amount of government support through the Covid-19 crisis through at least £42,655,000 in grants to Trafford businesses; £14,471,600 in Emergency Funding to the Council; £2,269,790 for an Infection Control Fund; £210,672 in High Street Funding; £1,561,070 for Council Tax Relief and £1,156,759 to develop a local Covid-19 action plan to keep the virus under control. The Government also introduced of a one-off income loss scheme which will compensate for irrecoverable and unavoidable losses from sales, fees and charges and income generated in the delivery of services, in the financial year 2020/21
In addition, Trafford has received unprecedented economic support to protect jobs and businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak. Over 36,300 jobs have been protected through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with Government grants covering people’s wages, and over 8,900 self-employed people in the three Trafford Parliamentary constituencies have received grants worth over £24.9M from the Government to help with the impact of Covid-19.
Cllr. Nathan Evans, Leader or the Opposition on the Council said “It was really disappointing to observe Trafford Labour’s latest theatrics regarding the Council’s financial position when a lot of the problems on the financial horizon are of their own making. What Labour didn’t reveal at the September Council meeting is that in the year to March 2020, Trafford’s borrowing surged to an eye watering £142m and it will be the Council’s Investment Strategy that will come home to roost for Trafford Labour.
“When Labour took power in 2018/19, the borrowings of the council for investments was £40m and now Labour has taken commitments to invest up to £374m. The administration went on a spending spree, still frantically buying even in January this year when every indicator was against new retail investments. By the end of 2019 retail values were plummeting and yet Trafford was still buying.
“At this stage specific valuations for the Council’s investments and commercial properties have not been undertaken to take account of the short term impact of Covid-19 yet the Council has now agreed to ask the Government for additional funding and compensate them for their speculative investments. That was not something that the Conservative Group on the Council could not support and it was disappointing that Labour won the vote for this latest piece of theatre with support from their Lib Dem and Green Party allies.”