Small print of Mayor's budget shows huge overspend on personal staff and £33 million Metro back hole.
The small print of papers due to be discussed by the West Midlands Combined Authority reveals there is a £33 million black hole in plans to extend the Metro to Brierley Hill.
Appendix 5 of the papers shows the total cost of the Metro extension is forecast to be £343,600,000, but that only £310,000,000 is in place, leaving a black hole of £33,600,000.
The papers also show Mayor Andy Street is set to overspend his personal staffing budget by £150,000 – 66% more than had been forecast.
Appendix 3 of the papers shows the Mayor’s personal staffing budget is forecast to be £379,000 – overshooting the £229,000 budget by 66%, or £150,000, despite Andy Street promising at the election to keep costs down, saying: “I want to keep the costs of the Mayor’s office as low as possible and make sure that the Mayor’s office pays for itself.” (Pledge 10 of Andy Street’s “Renewal Plan”)
Immediately after election he promised: “We’re also having a very lean mayoral office” (Coventry Telegraph 14th May)
On the Metro, Dudley North MP Ian Austin said:
“We’ve been waiting for years for the Metro and now we discover a £33 million black hole in the budget’s small print. This is a crucial project for Dudley and the Black Country and the Mayor has got to persuade the government to stump up the cash. I and I’m sure the other MPs will do all we can to lobby for the cash, but the Mayor has got to persuade Theresa May and the Chancellor to ensure this project goes ahead straight away.”
On the personal staffing overspend, Ian Austin said:
“Andy Street promised to run a tight ship. He said his office would pay for itself and that he wouldn’t have lots of personal or political appointments, but the small print shows he’s overspending on personal staff by a massive £150,000, two-thirds of the whole budget!
“Instead of flunkeys for the Mayor, I think that money would be much better spent tackling the homelessness crisis. The number of people sleeping rough has more than trebled, winter is on the way and he should be spending that money getting people off the streets.”