Monday, 30 September 2013

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.

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