I have been criticised (by a Winsford resident) for abstaining on the Council Budget last night and it was suggested that I need to explain my actions to Tarporley residents. Well a lot of you have seen the post below. I am not hiding anything from you. I received briefings from the professional staff of the Council and spent many hours poring over the Administration budget but the Conservative one was not made available to me until the meeting had actually begun despite my request for more timely notification
The Conservative budget amendment (which would not have passed no matter whether I voted for it or not) would have aimed to save the average family almost 52p a week and it was not clear what the implications would have been of the cuts they proposed. I think that it savings could be made then I would like to see our roads and pavements repaired and made safer and the litter, fly-tipping and other filth cleared from verges and laybys. I think we are all sick of overflowing bins and potholes you could go fishing in.
Below is the original article I published and publicised before the Council meeting
Currently I am wrestling with the 2019 budget setting that will determine our council tax. It is not an easy task, it requires a lot of reading and asking of questions and thinking. The Labour Administration is proposing a 4.9% increase which will be pretty much the national average given rising demands for children’s and elderly care budgets set against the government-imposed cap. The Opposition has expressed “disappointment” in the size of the increase but has not published any alternatives that I can find.
You will soon be told that residents’ main concerns are with emptying bins, cutting grass, cleaning the streets and dealing with fly-tipping and littering but I think this is only half the story. While these services are undoubtedly important, I believe that we are also very concerned about the growing number of children needing protection from abuse or neglect across the borough. Every child only gets one go at childhood.
Home to school transport budgets are also under severe strain as well.
I believe we care too, about the ever-growing number of elderly people – our family members or neighbours – who need basic daily assistance with dressing, eating, washing, isolation and loneliness. The number of people suffering from dementia is rising and must be taken into account.
For the average family the cost will be an extra £1.39 a week
We need safer roads; across the rural roads of this ward there are some shocking roads that will continue to deteriorate unless something is done soon.
I would like to propose that the council should not cut the Highways budget but that it would be better to cut out the unloved District Advisory Panel meetings and the unnoticed “Talking Together” Council Newspaper. I would also like to see a proper consideration of whether the Council really needs to own three golf courses. They do offer exercise opportunities and, no doubt, earn some rental income but are they really necessary? I would prefer to see investment in improving pavements so that our older residents in particular, will feel safe walking in the village!
I am certain that there are efficiencies and savings that can be made but they are always relatively small and take time to deliver; the needs are immediate and pressing.