Friday, 12 October 2012

Wake up and smell the coffee.

At last nights Council meeting we had the usual succession of opposition councilors moaning about the alleged reductions made in some service areas and criticizing the administration for not allocating more cash. On each occasion this is raised I make the point that we go through an extended budget process which is specifically intended to allow all members to participate and indicate their views as to spending priorities. If these views are not accepted they have the opportunity during the budget debate to propose variations to the budget and in particular to suggest increased expenditure wherever they feel appropriate – the only pre condition is that they must also identify the corresponding saving so that the budget balances. In my years as leader there has not been a single proposal made during the budget debate to increase revenue funding and yet having failed to take advantage of the opportunity provided opposition members then immediately start whining about spending. There are those who say that when in opposition it is not their responsibility to make constructive budget proposals but simply to oppose and complain. In my view this is an example of some local politicians trying to hide behind national party politics. Local politics is different. It is not a party political argument as to whether we concentrate funding on youth centres or highway maintenance and upkeep; adult social care or weekly rubbish collection. We may approach these issues based on our different underlying political philosophies but in a local context there is a debate to be had and it is based on a need to evaluate local needs and priorities and persuade others to accept your views. Ducking the debate is not political necessity but cowardice. I say put the towns’ money where your mouth is and make your case, not only for areas where you believe funding should be protected or increased but also where the balancing savings come from

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