Brent Council ‘left with a recipe for social damage’ and faces a ‘budget emergency’

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, issues stark warning over next year’s budget

Brent Council held its first public debate on the budget for next year last night with the leader of the council Cllr Muhammed Butt, claiming they had been “left with a recipe for social damage not seen since the Second World War” and that they faced a “budget emergency”.

The meeting, which gave all three parties a chance to address concerns, attracted controversy after numerous members of the public, many of whom had been protesting outside, were not allowed into the public gallery to watch proceedings.

During his speech to the council Cllr Butt said they would put forward a package to help the most vulnerable and work ‘relentlessly’ to support the community.

He said: “We will focus on jobs and growth because more and better paid employment is the key to ending poverty and deprivation in our borough.”

He added that they would bring forward plans to help and support high streets and local businesses and “put local money into the pockets of local people.”

Cllr Butt likened the council’s challenge to reducing your household expenditure by a third and claimed cuts of seven per cent every year would continue for another eight years but claimed Brent was a “dented shield” protecting residents.

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However, Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Liberal Democrat group claimed people were “fed up with nonsense” and the council had killed local businesses by hiking up parking rates.

He said: “We should be supporting these businesses not driving people away by pricing them out.

He also expressed concerns about the state of the council’s in house management team.

The council’s cheif executive Gareth Daniel left his post earlier this year after 14 years at the helm, following a falling out with Cllr Butt.

This was swiftly followed by the departure of Clive Heaphy, the director of finance.

Cllr Lorber said: “How many authorities do you know, who have lost their chief executive and their director of finance in a matter of weeks?”

Cllr Suresh Kansagra, leader of the conservative party, also expressed concerns about parking and added that closing half of the borough’s libraries would have a detrimental affect on the borough’s youth and learning and employment prospects.

The budget is expected to be finalised in February with another reading scheduled for December.