Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A great opportunity or a poisoned chalice?

It is going to be fascinating to see how the new Southend cabinet develops policies based on its agreed wish list. The greatest challenge will face Labour portfolio holders David Norman and Ann Jones with responsibility for Adult Social Care, Health & Housing, and Children & Learning respectively. No doubt they were drawn to these areas as providing a good opportunity to demonstrate their socialist commitment to increased public services and yet the reality is that as the Council has to deliver ongoing budgetary cuts the burden will inevitably fall on these 2 areas which account for a significant percentage of the overall council budget. How will they choose to identify and deliver the required savings whilst still holding to their desire to see service expansion rather than reduction. Of course one answer would be to prioritise social care over some of the more touchy feely services such as parks and culture, street scene improvements and the beaches. The problem with this approach is that it is Cllr Woodley who holds the purse strings and his empire in Thorpe has been build on demanding increased expenditure on just those types of touchy feely areas that would face significantly reduced expenditure. Of course they could try a massive hike in council tax or an unsustainable raid of the Council’s limited reserves but I can’t see either of these options appealing to Cllr Woodley and his Independent Party colleagues. What is for sure is that something is going to have to give and when it does the question will be whether the losers regard their positions round the cabinet table as more important than their political principles.

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