February 28, 2014 Leave a comment
I note that this is Cllr Holdcroft’s final budget. I have only seen two of them, but if the rest were as miserable as these two then I can understand the Leader’s desire to escape this place.
Again it is a story of cuts, job losses, and the diminution of public services. It comes to something when we almost celebrate a £7.3 million cut because of the significantly larger set of cuts that was promised at one point.
Some of the reductions come through efficiency savings, which rather begs the question as to why anyone would think it wise to have inefficient services in the past – although the answer may be that efficiency is a euphemism here.
Do I detect a pattern in the recent budgets? Large cuts last year, and no elections. Tough elections for the administration this year, and much smaller cuts. Expected large cuts again next year, set against the backdrop of a General Election…
It is not all bad. I am pleased that we are to see the borough’s street lights replaced by LED lighting. Obviously my informal prompting here has worked. This achieves two long term aims, a reduction in cost for the council and therefore the taxpayers in the borough as LED lights use less electricity (and perhaps we can have a look at those street signs that are permanently on while we are at it). It also helps to fulfil our obligations under the Nottingham Declaration. However, I believe there is still some way to go and whilst welcoming steps towards a greener borough I think we need to go further, sooner. A seaside community really is on the frontline in the climate change battle.
I am also delighted to see some real money going to highway improvements. I will be pushing for our pavements and road surfaces across the borough (and not just in wards represented by Labour councillors) to be overhauled to a decent standard. I do wonder how we have got to the point where, by the council’s own admission, we have a serious pothole every twenty-two and a half metres. We have saved money in the past by not fulfilling adequately our obligation to have the borough’s roads at a decent standard, and it is car owners and users who have had to foot the bill.
The borough’s pavements are also below the expectations of many residents I engage with, and again I will be encouraging the portfolio holder, whoever that is post May 22nd, to seriously tackle this issue. For too long parts of the borough have stretches of pavement that are impassable for some residents and I see this as a dereliction of our duty towards those who put us here.
Last year saw the borough’s toilets awarded national accolades. I confess to some surprise at this, those in and near my ward are often the subject of complaint. However, it is not just the cleanliness but the number of facilities that worry me. I was disappointed to see no allocation of funds for new, additional, toilets.
I will finish with a question which I hope the Leader will answer when he closes this debate. Amongst the cuts is the deletion of a Cabinet post. Could the Leader tell us who is to be culled?