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  • CarolineShah

Challenge of Kingston Council spending as council tax soars

Council tax is soaring in Kingston as residents face reduced services and council enters development spending spree

Each year Kingston Council is cutting back its budget for vital services for residents more and more whilst it is simultaneously spending more and more money on risky “growth” activities and on hugely expensive projects – like the new Dementia Nursing Care Home - that will not be accessible to all residents

Meanwhile, each year our council tax is being increased by the maximum amount by which the council are allowed to raise it without a referendum, making us the most expensive Borough in Greater London and one of the most expensive places to live in terms of council tax in England

It is time that Kingston council’s spending received proper independent scrutiny

In August 2021, I wrote to Kingston Council’s auditors, Grant Thornton, because I believe that the necessary evidence does not exist that Council spending in 2020 – 21 on the items listed a. to f. below represents value for money for residents, a legal requirement for all local authorities:

a. Kingfisher Leisure Centre

b. Kingston Station and Enterprise Hub

c. Dementia Nursing Care Home

d. The Guildhall and Town Centre Redevelopment

e. Housing Estate Regeneration

f. Regeneration and Economic Development (“RED”)/ Regeneration and Internationalisation (“R&I”)

The external auditors are the only non-public sector body to whom residents have recourse in order to hold Kingston Council to account for their spending

In the attached document, I have listed the money that Kingston Council declared publicly that it spent on each of the above assets and activities in 2020-21. You can read why I believe each area of expenditure does not appear to reflect value for money spending for residents

Kingston council officers have only recently sent me information that I requested in the summer of 2021. Grant Thornton has yet to agree to meet me to answer my questions, both as required by the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014

I will continue to pursue my right to inspect the accounts and to request that Grant Thornton issues a report in the public interest and a declaration of whether any items of expenditure made by the council in 2020/21 are contrary to law

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