Friday, 14 October 2011

Red tape - that sounds like a good wheeze!

One question raised at the Youth Council's Question Time event was whether the Council was proposing to cut "bureaucracy" to close the budget gap. It was a good question because it helps highlight one of the games our opposition parties will no doubt be playing over the coming months. The reality is that having cut about £50M from our revenue budget over the last 7 years or so there is not an area of the council's activity which has not been subject to intense scrutiny and review to a point where the Council is a lean machine delivering excellent value for money and financial efficiency. As we try to identify another £25M budget reductions over the next few years it will be impossible to avoid service cuts in some areas which no doubt the opposition groups will endeavour to distance themselves from. One cheap way of doing this is to make bland claims that massive sums can be saved by cutting bureaucracy or improved financial management! It is as though there are cupboards of red tape in the Civic Centre which can be easily removed with no effect on service provision. The reality is that a cut to "bureaucracy" means a cut to staff numbers or direct service provision which will have an effect on residents.So let's be up front and tell our voters how it really is - the debate is then which services do we stop providing, reduce or attempt to deliver in other ways.

Youth Council - Question Time

I was on the panel of a special Question Time arranged by the Youth Council for local schools and colleges.Ages ranged from Year 6 to A Level students and there was a wide range of questions. The event was well run and was a great demonstration of the interest our young people have in the town and its challenges. Well done to the Youth Council for making the arrangements.The panel consisted of myself, 2 cabinet colleagues Mark Flewitt & Derek Jarvis, the 3 opposition group leaders and our local police Divisional Commander. It was slightly surreal to spot another member of council attending the event in the audience - not exactly a member of the target audience for the event and certainly too old to be an active member of the Youth Council. I would have thought that he heard enough of us at council meetings but let us hope he learnt something from our responses!