Suffolk County Council agreed its Budget at full council today. The LibDems had a free vote, but most – if not all – voted against the Administration’s proposals. As Leader, Dave Wood said:
Our group fully understands the financial needs of the County – and the absolute requirement the Council has to raise efficiency and to give good value for money. So of course, we fully support the proposed 0% increase in Council Tax.
However, we sincerely believe that the Pickles Bribe (eg central government’s council tax freeze deal) should actually be used, rather than placed in the reserves as seems to have become Tory practice. This money should be given back to the people of Suffolk – from whom it was extracted via their taxes – and used to support some of the services you are proposing to cut.
We are concerned – most particularly with Adult and Continuing Services – that apparent efficiencies are masking significant service resuctions. We have anecdotal evidence that this is the case.
It is a different case with Childrens and Young Peoples’ services. League tables show clearly that we are still performing badly, and yet we see substantial budget cuts. This just cannot be right. The future of Suffolk depends on the aspirations of its young people.
We welcome the gains you propose to make from the moving of CSD inhouse- but surely there has been a very hard lesson to be learned here. This project has been very badly managed for years now. It is proof, if proof was needed that outsourcing services doesn’t always make savings and is not always best.. SO surely the savings made from this and the Energy from Waste project should be employed to rectify the problems I have quoted.
On a personal level I’m deeply disappointed that the Council has decided to cut their contribution to Suffolk’s magnificent AONBs by 20% – especially as it is on the back of them being forward-looking and restructuring I know it is only a small sumof money in the grand scheme of things – but what sort of message is it going to send out to our other contributing partners, considering AONBs importance, and the contribution they make to the Suffolk economy? I wish that the reduction could have been phased in with a full consultation. As it is there in black and white in today’s budget, I hope the Portfolio holder will reassure us that he will take no more from the AONBs for the duration of this administration.