An almighty row over 2019 Council Budget

The above link will take you to a story revealing a row that has broken out that is proving to be an embarrassment to the Conservative group on the Council. To my mind it is an altogether avoidable row.

There are strict legal rules governing budget setting. These are designed to stop anyone putting forward irresponsible proposals such as using reserves to cut the council tax for one year meaning that the shortfall has to be added to the next year’s increase. Likewise you can’t airily say that savings will be found from unspecified efficiencies. These are not new rules; I remember the long battles to ensure that savings were deliverable, legal and responsible when I had responsibility for setting the budget. The Council’s finance officers were always very professional, impartial and helpful just as they were last week when I was given a briefing on the budget.

I draw your attention in particular to the following quote about the Conservative proposed budget:- “it proposes freezing council tax, but does not propose an equivalent reduction in council tax spending sufficient to meet the cost. It is a requirement of legislation that the council’s Section 151 officer (the lead officer responsible for the Council’s resources) is able to sign off proposals as meeting the legal requirement for a balanced budget”

I am not going to indulge in finger pointing or name calling but it is hard to see how the Conservative leadership on the Council have made such a blunder

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