Over the last month, I have somewhat neglected this blog because of other pressures. Tonight, to bring it more up-to-date I intend to post three recent articles that have been published in the Cornish Guardian. The first of these was published on 16th July and was as follows:.
Cornwall Councillors are presently attending a range of meetings to consider a Strategy framework, which will set out the “direction for the organisation over the course of the next four years.”
It is a particularly stressful time for all councillors. It has been estimated that – after four years of swingeing cuts – the unitary authority needs to cut a further £196 million from its already shrunken financial base.
Part of the pressure comes from rising costs and additional pressures, for example because of
growing population, but yet more cuts are anticipated from central government.
The ruling Liberal Democrat and Independent Cabinet has published a first draft of its Strategy for the Council. It includes a set of “values and principles” which they claim “will guide and shape how the Council operates” and “provide the grounding for the difficult decisions that lie ahead.”
Their values include “inclusive, engaging and empowering leadership,” “honesty, respect and … trust” and being “ambitious for
Their principles meanwhile promise close working with partners and communities, as well as flexibility, while “providing choices and opportunities in every aspect of people’s lives” and “supporting equality and social inclusion,” and “acting in
The document also has a series of “themes,” which include “driving the economy,” ”healthier communities” and the “stewardship of
Fine words indeed.
But it is still extremely unclear as to how they will help Cornwall Council take the “difficult decisions” being forced upon it.
Local councils are struggling because of the truly disproportionate cuts from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition. And it is so bad that the new chairman of the Local Government Association, David Sparks, has accused the Government “of an abuse of power” in the manner in which they deal with local government.
It is particularly galling to local politicians, such as myself, to see the Coalition undermining local government with cuts, while wasting money themselves.
Only days ago, we had the headlines about large numbers of wealthy people still using aggressive tax avoidance schemes to get out of paying their fair share of tax, while the Government’s own Business Select Committee has reported that the privatisation of the Royal Mail short-changed taxpayers by £1 billion.
It seems to me that the Coalition needs to get its own house in order and it could start by reversing its damaging cuts to local government.