Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cuts at County Hall

Today, the Conservative and Independent councillors on Cornwall Council voted to reaffirm the emergency budget agreed in early December.

Speaking on behalf of the MK group, I started by condemning the extent of the cuts to the public sector being imposed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition.

We also hit out at the Council’s business plan and associated paperwork which talks about this being an “exciting time” or a “unique opportunity” for reform or that we are part of some imaginary big society.

Taking the opposite view, and believing that the public sector is under attack, I told the meeting that it was time to stop seeking plaudits for early cuts. It is surely time that the Conservative-led Council did more to oppose the cuts and put pressure on the Conservative-led Coalition to rethink its approach to local government funding.

The main debate around the budget focussed on the 40% cut to the Supporting People budget, which would lead to less monies for partners to provide important services to support vulnerable people.

We challenged the Cabinet to rethink the extent of cuts in the Supporting People budget, but the budget was passed.

It was supported by 65 Conservative and Independent councillors and opposed by 40 others (MK, Liberal Democrats, Labour, one rebel Conservative and one rebel Independent).

The records will show that I was not there for the actual vote. As the new Chairman of the China Clay Area Local Action Group (LAG), I had to leave County Hall to attend a meeting of LAG chairs to discuss future funding arrangements.

I was able to do this because it was clear from the early exchanges in the budget debate that the vote was not going to be close. The Conservatives and Independents were determined to vote the budget through and, as it showed, they had the numbers to do this with ease.

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