A core principle of all public bodies is that of openness, after all it is tax-payers money that funds these, so it’s only correct that business is done in the most transparent way possible.
It is a totally different scenario with private business for equally obvious reasons. Competition drives the economy and businesses use a variety of techniques to gain advantage over their rivals.
Ipswich Borough Council currently operates and owns four companies which are run as private businesses. Currently these companies have outstanding loans to IBC of over £60 million. To put this number into context it is 3 times as much as the Annual Net Budget of the entire Council.
All expenditure items in the general budget are accounted for in public. Large expenditure goes before the Executive and Council with elected Councillors given detailed plans and the ability to ask questions.
Expenditure of all the private companies is done behind very closed doors. Can it be right that £42 million of your money is gambled on the Anglia Retail Park near Asda, or over £4 million spent on the Burtons/Dorothy Perkins store in the Town Centre without any discussion?
Twice as much money was spent in one deal than the entire Net Budget of IBC for 2 years! Nobody was consulted, most Councillors did not get the chance to scrutinise the deal, no Councillors could ask any questions.
It is a fine line the Council is treading – We understand the need to generate vital income to protect, and improve, frontline public services but we also understand the need for transparency. Councillors are elected to represent the public of Ipswich and we have a duty to uphold the core principle of openness.
Your Labour Council needs to ensure the balance between the two always favour the residents of our Town.