‘We’re drowning here’: Nottingham, the latest Labour council facing the abyss

Tom Belger
SAKhanPhotography / Shutterstock
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Another week, another reminder of the grim local government legacy Labour may inherit as another council issues a section 114 notice.

Nottingham City Council has said it can’t meet its legal duty to balance the books, with a £23m shortfall this year.

The notices are widely described as effectively declaring bankruptcy, but the council says it is not bankrupt and can pay all its current obligations this year.

However, any spending beyond those obligations will be blocked, unless signed off by its finance chief, and capital projects could be delayed and assets sold off.

Minister Robert Jenrick a̶p̶o̶l̶o̶g̶i̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶u̶s̶t̶e̶r̶i̶t̶y̶ called the council “unfit to govern”. But Nottingham cabinet member Linda Woodings says the problem is what many councils are saying: “We’re drowning here”.

A council report blames soaring demand and price inflation for social care, home-to-school transport and temporary accommodation, higher-than-expected national wage settlements and interest rates.

Nottingham Labour said by contrast real-terms government cuts continue, on top of austerity leaving a reported £100m-a-year shortfall versus a decade ago, and slammed ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss for having “crashed our economy”.

It says the answer is a Labour government and “proper” council funding. Though given Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ wariness over hiking taxes or borrowing, it’s not clear where Labour in power would find the billions needed to fill the council void.

Obama, Wales and a four-day week

None other than Barack Obama came out saying we may need to consider a four-day week and universal basic income earlier this month.

After Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said there was an “argument for” UBI this week, we carry an op-ed today by Welsh Assembly Member Jack Sargeant suggesting the Welsh government should trial a four-day week after the Senedd petitions committee backed one.

He argues we must act now to be “ahead” of change like artificial intelligence and decarbonisation and avoid repeating “the scars of deindustrialisation”, adding: “Too often in the UK we are buffeted by change and are far too slow to react.” Worth a read here.

In other Labour news

SELECTION: Liam Conlon won the hotly contested race last night to stand in Beckenham and Penge in south London, seeing off rivals including Palestine aid charity CEO Mel Ward and IPPR associate director Luke Murphy.

Conlon is Labour Party Irish Society chair, employed by education organisation Discovery Education, the son of Sue Gray and has pledged to campaign on accessibility having suffered a severe accident as a teenager.

POP TO COP: Keir Starmer takes shadow cabinet colleagues Ed Miliband and David Lammy to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai today to meet world leaders.

The party says Starmer will argue Labour’s clean energy “superpower” plans are about “pragmatism, not ideology”, highlight how renewables save money and pledge to put Britain “back on the world stage” as a global partner while Rishi Sunak had to be “shamed” into attending the last COP.

KISSINGER TRIBUTE: Former PM Tony Blair’s tribute to Henry Kissinger is raising eyebrows on X, as he called the US diplomat an “artist” who inspired him and to whom he will be “forever grateful”.

Of course, for his many critics, Kissinger will be remembered as a “notorious war criminal”, as The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire puts it (X)

HUNT DOWN LABOUR: Jeremy Hunt claims Labour is being “dishonest” by backing Tory NI cuts alongside its green borrowing plans. A Labour spokesperson said it was the Chancellor who was being “dishonest, economically illiterate or both” (The Times).

SCOTTISH SUCCESS: Starmer leads Sunak by 20% in Scotland in a Redfield and Wilton poll, his largest lead to date, and for the first time in their general election surveys Labour (36%) outpolls the SNP (34%).

Labour and the SNP are both up by the former has carved out more from the Tory’s six percentage point decline to 17% (X)

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