Bexley Council power-brokers are holding a “continual conversation” with central Government over emergency funding as the authority weighs up a controversial package of cuts and increased charges to balance its coronavirus-impacted budget.

The authority’s finances were the subject of examination by BBC London’s political editor Tim Donovan in a piece aired on BBC One on Monday.

It came after Bexley Council last month started public consultation on a range of measures, including closing down children’s centres and raising car parking charges, as part of a range of measures aimed at clawing back millions of pounds.

While the Government had as recently as last week pumped more funding into local councils, Bexley still faces a shortfall worth millions of pounds after spending £13.684 million during the coronavirus pandemic, while missing out on £48.178m of income it had expected to receive from uncollected business rate and council tax concessions.

Council leader Tersea O’Neill stopped short of guaranteeing the Government  would be able to cover the authority’s financial shortfall when asked. 

“I can’t make that commitment, that’s for them to make,” she said.

“What I can tell you is there is a continual conversation, it’s a mature conversation, it’s a grown-up conversation.”

She also expanded on proposed changes to children’s centres in the borough which are currently up for consultation.

Under the plans, four children’s centres around the borough would be closed, except for the Danson Children’s Centre, which would be run by a trust.

“With a shrinking budget, you have to use your money in a targeted fashion and when we looked at it, actually the money for children’s centres isn’t necessarily targeted at the vulnerable people that you would want to target it at,” she said.

The five-pronged approach currently out for consultation also includes plans to increase parking charges, bump up the costs of garden waste collection, strengthening the policy against parking ticket appeals, and adding automated CCTV enforcement to those flouting the rules in bus lanes.

The proposals are the first to be considered by the council as it looks to negate a looming financial blackhole worsened by the coronavirus.

A second and larger set of proposals is being developed for public consultation from November to January.

Residents can have their say on the first set of proposals by taking part in an online survey here:

A paper copy of the survey will be available in libraries shortly.

The deadline for responses is September 30.