Labour Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg has written to Westminster Council Chief Executive, Stuart Love, about the recent decision to spend £30,000 on installing a Christmas Tree in Wyndham Place, Marylebone:
“I am writing to draw your attention to the recent decision to allow the expenditure of £30,000 from the Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward budget on what is essentially a ‘hole in the ground’ to enable the installation of an annual Christmas Tree. The Committee report description is as follows:
“£30,000 will contribute towards the costs involved for the installation of foundations, to allow for a Christmas tree to be installed each year, in front of St Mary’s Church on Wyndham Place. This would cover costs of a C2 stats survey, topographical survey and basement survey, as well as costs for the construction of foundations, pavements and contingency costs.”
From the above description, the costs do not include the cost of the Christmas tree which would be additional (probably another £2,500).
I have no problem with using Ward budget money to pay for Christmas trees and in the past we have done so in Queen’s Park, Harrow Road, Maida Vale and elsewhere. But I do not believe anything like £30,000 has ever been spent for this purpose and I would like you to investigate if this is really value for money.
I note that the Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward Councillors spent nothing from their Ward Budget in 2018/19 and they therefore have over £90,000 to spend, including the ‘rollover’ from last year. That, however, should not give them license to spend £30,000 in this way.
Finally, if the Bryanston & Dorset Square Ward Councillors are having difficulty finding deserving organisations for Ward budget funds can I suggest they contact the following:
- St Mary’s, Bryanston Square, School – where Ward budget funds could help fund a breakfast club and after-school club
- West London Mission in Seymour Place – where help is provided to the homeless on a daily basis and Ward budget funds would make a valuable contribution
- Foodbanks in Paddington and South Westminster – where Ward budget money could help feed those in need
- Youth organisations in the area – where Ward budget money could fund youth club leaders to help steer youngsters away from gangs and ASB
I would be grateful for your thoughts on this.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Environment & City Management spokesperson”