January 18, 2016 Leave a comment
As the Conservative Government’s austerity agenda continues to bite we, in local government, are faced we another round of tough decisions. Another year, another unpleasant budget.
Yet, there are choices, and Southend-on-Sea’s Joint Administration is choosing to preserve what it can of the vital public services it provides. Prudent management of the borough’s finances has enabled us to soften the blow, and the savings from the new waste management contract has seen over £1 million in savings.
Local Conservatives have expressed opposition to the new waste management contract – and had they managed to get their way then one can only imagine the consequences for the borough. We know that their plans threatened our libraries, libraries whose future is more secure now that Labour has significant input into the running of the town. Children centres are also safer under the Joint Administration tenure in charge.
Of course there will be pain; job losses and increase council tax bills are never a pleasant thing. This is a consequence of Government plans that are seeing austerity continue. Whatever one thinks of the Government’s plans, the attack on local government finances cannot be denied. As a local councillor I am regularly asked to provide things that come with a cost. Of course I, and my colleagues, do what we can. But I cannot magic resources out of nowhere, and with shrinking resources one is faced with the reality of being part of a Council that will be forced to raise charges, and to trim wherever possible. This is true this year, and yet no service is under threat – at the moment. One cannot only imagine that many more years of this and we will see services cut beyond reasonable usability.