Simon Galton

Liberal Democrat County & District Councillor Learn more

County Council £70m Savings plan

by simongalton on 9 September, 2009

Recently the County Council announced a plan to save £70m off hte bdget through a combination of efficiency savings (doing what the council does cheaper) and the rest through a combination of service reductions (cuts) and possible redunacies (future cuts). below is a copy of the press release the Lib Dems released:

 Liberal Democrats have responded to the County Councils’ announcement of a £70 Million target for savings up to 2014.

Simon Galton, Group Leader said: “this report is something that we have feared, but knew was emerging. The simple fact is that the recession and national debt have created a toxic situation for local councils. With people needing more services but councils faced with receiving less money the position is incredibly difficult.

I am relieved that this report has emerged at such an early stage, and it demonstrates an act of good faith on behalf of the Conservative administration to allow complete involvement of opposition political groups, key stakeholders and the public in working on this very difficult task.  Obviously, I am concerned at the potential for service reductions on top of efficiency savings, but Liberal Democrats recognise that the budget has to be balanced – and we can only do what we can afford. I hope that all political groups will be involved in these discussions to work towards consensus– ensuring we balance our financial need with our responsibility to serve the people.  

On the issue of possible job cuts and redundancies, I am hoping that in most cases they will be a last resort after restructuring, service improvements and managing vacancies. I would argue we should start by going back over things like the office strategy to ensure that we save every penny we can first. This is a horrible time for council staff that have mortgages and loans like everyone else and I hope that alternatives can be found to limit the loss of staff which will inevitably reduce services further.  

I would also add that I am concerned at the continued pursuit of the 0% council tax which the Conservatives promised during the recent county council elections. I recognise that the public may feel that this is an appropriate response in these hard times, but we must strike a balance. Over 70% of our budget comes from council tax, and the loss of money from the Government coupled with increasing costs must not be forgotten. I am all for keeping rates as low as possible but if the obsession with 0% Council tax is relentlessly pursued it could exacerbate the impact on vital services and cause more essential staff to be lost. We must therefore question whether it is sensible to carry on planning for 0% when a conservative government couldn’t afford it or it could further undermine key services”

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