BIRMINGHAM Council recently spectacularly effectively declared themselves bankrupt after money had been squandered by the Labour-run authority on all kinds of things. A recognisable trait of the Labour Party generally is that they are very good at wasting other people’s hard-earned money and that certainly applies closer to home in Bradford too. In fact, it is only a matter of time before Bradford Council announces it is bankrupt too.

One of the most grotesque examples of their waste is with Children’s Services. The mess Bradford Council has made here is well documented but, not only was the service not fit for purpose, they vastly overspent by over £50million. People might understand a Council that overspent but had a fantastic service, and people might understand a Council that was trying to save money but failed to provide the best service as a result. However, Bradford Council has somehow managed to over-spend by a vast amount and yet provide so terrible a service that it was removed from them by the government. Incompetence doesn't come much more stark than that.

In the financial report in July, Bradford Council’s Director of Finance reported that the Council was forecast to overspend in the current financial year (2023-24) by £13.8 million and further reserves would be required to balance the budget.

He also said that on-going financial pressures have left reserves “close to exhaustion” and that “reliance upon them is unsustainable.” This shows the dire situation Bradford Council has got itself into - straight from the horse’s mouth.

In actual fact, Council reserves have fallen from £256.5 million in 2021 to around £68 million in this current financial year – a historic low.

Yet the Council has still been spending money like it is going out of fashion. I understand that £70 million has been spent on four Bradford city centre projects alone. £22 million on the new Darley St Market, £15.5 million purchasing Kirkgate Centre to create space for the new City Village, £4.5 million to purchase the NCP car park on Hall Ings to create a new entrance to the bus/rail interchange and £28 million on One City Park office block.

On the subject of office blocks, we also have Council staff who are working from home in a way they did not before whilst presumably office buildings are not being fully utilised – wasting more money. I also found out recently from the TaxPayers’ Alliance that they have received information which shows that 49 people from Bradford Council have been given permission to work not from home but from abroad!

Despite heading for bankruptcy, Bradford Council still found the money to employ members of staff in politically correct equality, diversity and inclusion roles with salaries of an astonishing £665,000 per year. This is probably just the tip of the iceberg and is on top of the £227,000 spent on training courses for equality, diversity and inclusion which wasted 10,311 staff hours (the equivalent of 1,288 days). Bradford Council’s obsession with costly Equality and Diversity projects that are divisive and wrongheaded is a complete and utter waste of money – and it is money they clearly do not have.

It is virtually impossible to see how this Council has the capability to avert financial disaster. Indeed the report from the Council’s Director of Finance has the ominous mention of borrowing. He reported that the Council was now “borrowing at cost” whereas in the past it had not only used its own cash but had actually generated income from lending cash.

The Council has already increased council tax by 4.99% in one year and, if they keep on spending like they are, how much more will local council taxpayers have to pay in the future? If - or should I say when - Bradford Council declares bankruptcy, the people who will pay the heaviest price will be the council tax payers who will face a hike in their bill by around 10% to 15% in one fell swoop which many will find unaffordable.

This makes it all the more important and urgent for the Shipley and Keighley constituencies to break away from Bradford Council and form a new authority formed with a separate budget. I think a smaller local council would be more accountable to my constituents and would certainly mean money would be spent in our own area rather wasted than on big city centre white elephant projects.

If my constituents stay with Bradford Council, they are going to end up paying much more for even less in the future.

Mark my words, Bradford Council is going bust. They will try any wheeze and stunt to try and delay it beyond the General Election to hoodwink people into voting Labour, but bankruptcy will happen and they will have nobody to blame but themselves for their chronic mismanagement. You have been warned.