Monday, 30 September 2013

Council Tax Support Scheme

Some concern was expressed that I mentioned a member of the public by name at the last Full Council meeting in the context of a question to Alex Folkes on his change of tune on the Council Tax Support Scheme.

Ms Kent got in touch with me to thank me for raising her issue and to confirm that she had indeed given her name on the Radio and did not wish to be anonymous.

I am glad that my proposal to allocate £1 million to assist residents adversely affected by the changes to the Scheme was eventually accepted by Full Council. However, I think events have borne out that the Council was right in January not to absorb the whole cost of this reduction in central government funding - although many in the current Cabinet, including Cllr Folkes, thought that it should.

More flip flopping from Alex Folkes.

The Council slashes services but protects staff

In May the Liberal Democrats promised to cut parking charges across Cornwall. They also promised to cut waste and inefficiency, not the services local people rely on.

Unfortunately the Lib-Dems have a track record of breaking election promises. Even cast-iron written commitments - as in the case of tuition fees.

Prior to last May it was well known that there would be significant further government budget reductions.

Conservative pressure at County Hall kept the last administration under budget for the last 4 years. The new Liberal Democrat Finance Portfolio Holder (Cllr Folkes) immediately spent the budget surplus from last year and is now predicting being over budget this year- without any further government cuts.

Now in a position to make a difference, Cllr Folkes is prepared to slash any service to save money. But he has ruled out looking at staff pay in this year's budget.

He thinks that it is easier to cut services and raise council tax than consider reducing the council's pay bill of over £200,000,000.

The last administration saved £170 million, but we would be the first to say that there was more to do.

Cllr Folkes' delay will make it more difficult to protect services to the vulnerable, leisure centres and libraries, buses and roads.

In the last Council a series of public consultation events on the budget were led, very capably, by Councillor John Keeling, Chairman of Scrutiny, not the Cabinet member responsible for the Budget. So there was more listening to the public and less lecturing. As Conservatives, we supported this approach.

Cllr Folkes complains that my group turned down an invite to a private meeting with him on the Budget. Quite frankly, there are far too many meetings behind closed doors at County Hall under the new administration.

Right of Way Re-opened

I would like to thank local residents, especially George Budge, for all the effort they put in to help get the shortcut past Carvedras Yard re-opened. This has been used for generations as a shortcut, for example, to the railway station and Bosvigo School.

I know that the legal processes seem to have taken forever but, just as the Council’s formal notice to remove the obstruction was about to expire last Friday, a through route was reopened by the landowner.

The formal statements which we took from local residents convinced the Council that they could and should take action. They also persuaded the landowner to comply with (at the eleventh hour) the Council’s demand to reopen the route.

However, there is more to do. Part of the area has been cordoned off by the landowner by a monstrous fence. I will now try to get the status of this right of way formalised to minimise the risk of it being obstructed in the future and try to get the fence removed.