Thursday, January 27, 2005

Budget Time Looms

I spent a large part of yesterday afternoon with some of my fellow councillors in a seminar on the budget pressures we face this year. A job that few if any of us enjoy is setting the budget and level of council tax for the coming year. Ideally we'd like to be able to do all the improvements that residents want. But of course very few people are happy to see the Council Tax go up to pay for them.
Because of the unfair way that it's worked out at the moment most of the say in the level of Council Tax sits with the government in Westminster. It's very frustrating for local councillors who want to do their best for the local people.
As it is we have to make some very hard choices, trying to decide between such things as paying for the electricity for the street lights, providing more help for elderly and disabled people to live independently, doing work with young people to stop them sliding into a life of crime, making sure that the computer systems work properly so that everything else can happen properly and many many more.
In the end, the councillors who were present decided that priorities should include working to stop the increasing trend towards anti-social behaviour, to keep people able to live at home as much as possible, and to keep the town safe & pleasant to live in. Sadly, while the Liberal Democrat group thought it important and ensured that almost all attended, only 6 other councillors bothered to give up the afternoon.
The final decisions will be made by the Labour controlled Cabinet. Readers may be interested to know that Cllr Gibson, leader of the council, described the increase in Anti-social behaviour as "just young people pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with." "It's what young people do".

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