Councillor apologises after swearing at Barking and Dagenham budget meeting

The deputy leader of Barking and Dagenham Council has apologised after swearing repeatedly in a council meeting.

Councillor Dominic Twomey exclaimed the government “couldn’t run a p***-up in a brewery” as he delivered the new budget for Barking and Dagenham, including a move to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent.

He did later apologise for his language. “…particularly the ladies,” he added.

Cllr Twomey told a cabinet meeting of the all-Labour council that no one wanted the tax hike but the Conservative government had put it in an “unenviable position.”

He said: “The biggest uncertainty is, all jokes aside, this government – they don’t seem to know what they’re doing in terms of supporting local government. If you took me back six or eight weeks, I would have probably said that they couldn’t run a p***-up in a brewery.

“It does appear that they can run a very good p***-up in an office, a garden and all sorts of workplaces… hopefully someone will be fined at some point.”

The cabinet member for finance performance and core services was referring to the ‘partygate’ scandal of a number of alleged get-togethers in 10 Downing Street and other government offices in violation of the government’s own COVID rules.

He later added: “I must apologise for any offensive language I may have caused anyone in the chamber, but particularly the ladies.”

Cllr Twomey, in outlining Barking and Dagenham’s budget for 2022/23 to 2025/26, said the tax increase was to deal with rising costs, with one per cent being set aside for adult social care in Barking and Dagenham.

The hike would see the cost of council tax for Band D properties – those worth between £68,000 and £88,000 – rise from £1,348.91 to £1,389.24, meaning an extra £40.33 a year.

Combined with another tax rise from the Greater London Authority, council tax will go up by £72.26 a year for a Band D home – or £1.39 a week. Cllr Twomey said that although the council did not want to raise council tax as the cost of living goes up across the country, it had been forced to do so by the government.

He said: “[It’s the] government putting us and every other local authority in the country probably in the unenviable position of having to raise council tax again.

“I say it’s unenviable because I know none of us in this chamber tonight would do so willingly. But if we chose not to do that, not only would we then have to find just short of £2 million in additional savings from somewhere else, it would almost be an acknowledgement of saying ‘we’re ok, our budget, our finances are ok.’ Frankly, as you all know, neither of those statements are true.”

Cllr Twomey, Barking and Dagenham Council, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities were contacted for comment.

Alastair Lockhart

Local Democracy Reporter