Conservative councillors accused of selling Swanley down the river as reserves drop by £800,000
PUBLISHED: 11:46 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:46 17 January 2017
The town's Conservative group has hit back at accusations of financial mismanagement
Swanley council’s Conservatives have been accused of selling the town down the river after its reserves fell by £800,000 in little more than a year.
The Liberal Democrats have accused the ruling Tory group of financial mismanagement and spending money on redundancies rather than the upkeep of the town.
Figures released by Dr Alan Bullion, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Swanley and Sevenoaks, show the reserves fell from £956,450 in January 2015 to £149,970 in March 2016.
Dr Bullion told The Reporter: “They have gone down further than we thought - much further and they would be bankrupt.
“The only way they can still make money is selling off The Woodlands site, which has gone up for sale for retirement homes.
“When the Conservatives were elected it was on a pitch of “we are business people - we will manage the finances soundly and not raise tax” - but they are going to raise tax by two per cent and have not managed the finances soundly.
“Residents pay their taxes and do not expect their money to be wasted.”
But council leader Victor Southern dismissed the claims and suggested the Lib Dems were trying to score political points ahead of an upcoming by-election in White Oak.
“Reserves are not there to be set in stone - quite the opposite,” he said.
“Councils holding more than two months’ expenditure should reduce it for the benefit of residents.
“Our accounts are audited by an indpendent auditor and the district auditor and appear on the council’s website.”
Cllr Southern added that the council has been put under pressure by the removal of the government grant, and The Woodlands had been sold because it was no longer needed.
“I wish things were different, but we are where we are and we have to make the best of it,” he added.