Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Taking care of the money?

Can Cllr Folkes, Cabinet member for Finance, Resources and Communications, really expect the public to trust what he says about saving money unless he is transparent about the details?

He claims 'our aim is to try to save as much as possible from back office work' but his preferred option for a big new office in Bodmin was criticised by the Council's Chief Financial Officer as not being the best financial option.

His preferred option was estimated to result in lost savings to the Council of about £700,000 per annum. To put this in context, the plan to scrap the mobile library vans is designed to save only about £150,000 per annum.

Further, his plans to build a Council office in Bodmin do not reflect the proper debt costs. Can anyone afford to buy a house without counting the cost of the mortgage?

As we all know the Council has a massive overall debt of hundreds of millions. But the Council is using receipts from sales of its assets to build new Council offices while that debt remains unpaid and indeed may grow. If the Council thinks that is a good plan why not be transparent about it?

I am pleased to hear that Cllr Folkes has changed his mind and now thinks that the money spent by the last Council on offices in Truro and Camborne to make them work for hot desking was a good plan. I hope he will also tell Dan Rogerson MP, who wrote to his consitutents saying it was a waste.
I note that Cllr Folkes does not comment on the ballooning overspend on adult social care due to poor management, on which he was recently taken to task by the Audit Committee.

Lack of transparency makes it hard to track the spend on consultants and agency staff. The big project of sorting out the Council's systems, so that all costs can be properly tracked and managed, has been completed and the BT deal is in place. Last week the portfolio holder said that one aspect of the BT deal had already saved the Council £8m.

The Council are now busy cancelling projects (such as £10m rebuild of C block at Helston School) so they certainly should not need many consultants.

If you are one of the lucky 3000 residents to receive the Council's survey you can tell them exactly what you think. However, if Cllr Folkes sails on despite the advice of the Chief Financial Officer what chance is there he will take note of others' views?

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