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Vanity Projects of Politicians

The Civic Hall has its own Wikipedia page, although it might need to be updated. On 1 March 2019 it was announced that the Civic Hall will reopen in the autumn of 2021, five years later than originally planned. The anticipated cost had increased to £38.1m, nearly four times the original budget. Boris Johnson has his HS2 and might have a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wolverhampton has its very own Civic Hall refurbishment. What will be the final cost ? Who knows ! On 18 June 2020, it was announced that the cost would be further increased, although the Express and Star did not put forward a new figure. On  29 June 2020 it was announced that additiona
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Sell assets

Around 2018, the press reported on the potential bankruptcy of Northamptonshire Council which the Guardian referred to as “a model of Tory ideology”. The Guardian report said that the authority was likely to sell its new £53m headquarters and that there might be a fire sale of assets to keep the council afloat. In the end, I think that the HQ was sold for more than £53m and the council was given permission by central government, to spend the money on day to day expenditure. Wolverhampton City Council has been asked what assets could be sold and what assets would be sold, in order to prevent Wolverhampton going the same way ? One major asset which springs to mind is the Civic Hall, which seems to be putting a strain on the Council's finances. The Civic Hall is a grade 2 listed building which is currently undergoing refurbishment. It is understood the project will be completed 5 years late and 4 x over budget. A recent estimated refurbishment cost was £38.1m https://www.expressa

In the end ... we all pay ... for everything

I get the impression that local councils usually complain that they have been starved of funds by central government. Maybe they forget that both local and central government raise money from the same taxpayers. In the end ..we all pay.. for everything. If local or central government does not collect enough tax or other income, then it has to borrow, which pushes the debt problem onto future generations. It would be interesting to know what discussions or negotiations have taken place between Wolverhampton City Council and central government as to how much tax is collected by each of them, how much each then has to borrow and how much of the Wolverhampton City Council's budget is then subsidised by central government. One political squabble was recently reported in the local media:

Charities and Charity Shops

When I started this thread I wanted to consider the relationship between charities and the Council, particularly the effects of the number of charity shops on the high street. However, I felt I could not do this justice without considering the tax and financial advantages given to charities, in more detail. Sorry about that ! Charities are good things ..... right ? Probably .... but... it depends....maybe. How does a charity spend its money I would hope that most of the money raised by a charity is spent on  its "primary purpose". I believe this usually does not involve a conventional charity shop although a charity might have a "trading" primary purpose: By way of example, the aims and activities of our very own Compton Care are set out on the Charity Commission website as: "To relieve and provide palliative care to persons principally resident in Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sa

Business Rates - for retail premises

Much has been said about internet shopping, its negative effects on the “high street” and therefore its negative effects on the value of retail real estate. There has also been some comment about the effect of numerous charity shops, on the well-being of the high street. Maybe charity shops mean that a landlord will receive rent that would not otherwise be received. Also, a charity shop might generate a degree of footfall that would not be generated if a property remained empty. However, maybe the landlord will receive a higher rent because a taxpayer supported entity such as a charity can afford to pay more.  When a property is let to a charity, the local authority invariably foregoes a large proportion of the Business Rates it might receive if the property were let to a "normal" shop or other trade. To what extent does a local authority then have to replace the % of Business Rates which a charity shop does not pay, by looking to get higher Business Rates from "normal

Business Improvement District - Wolverhampton

Is Wolverhampton's Business Improvement District worth the money ? “Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are partnerships between local authorities and local businesses which are intended to provide additional services or improvements to a specified area”. The setting up of a BID involves: 1. A proposal by a local authority or by a business ratepayer or by a company whose “purpose” is to develop the BID area or which has an interest in the land. 2. The proposal sets out the detail and the business plan including, the services to be provided, the size and “scope” of the BID, who is liable for the BID levy, its amount and how it is to be collected. 3. The proposer gives advance notice to the Secretary of State of the intention to put the BID proposal to ballot and then gives advance notice of the actual ballot. 4. The businesses in the BID area which are subject to the potential lev

£1bn of debt ?

In October 2018, the local media reported that Wolverhampton City Council's debt was approaching £1bn. That's around £4k for every man woman and child. This was updated in July 2019. The issue is not a new one. "PWLB borrowing reaches £464m in February Councils borrowed £464m from the Public Works Loan Board during February, according to figures released