Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Budget Day

Not the budget that makes headlines in the national press but one which matters to the people of Stockton - our council budget. Most of the work of course is done by council officers with much better heads for figures than I have, but the final decision is for elected members. We are elected to represent residents and we are the ones who sometimes have to make hard choices.
This year we agreed to keep to what we proposed last year and to spend the year looking carefully at where we can make savings, doing things better and perhaps not doing things at all so that next year we can avoid having either a huge increase or large numbers of redundancies.
As Liberal Democrats we did support the amendment proposed by IBIS to use some of our capital to buy a plot of land in Ingleby Barwick so that if the Building Schools for the Future money comes through we'd be able to build more secondary places in Ingleby. It's only fair - that's where most demand is now. It would need to be very carefully organised so that it didn't have a negative impact on Egglescliffe and Conyers but that's not outside the realms of possibility.
If the worst came to the worst and the land couldn't be used for school places it would be a valuable asset owned by the council in years to come and could be used for something else.
As expected, the Labour-Tory unholy alliance didn't agree and voted against so we lost the vote but won the argument.
Of course today is also Ash Wednesday, a day for Christians the world over to start a period of reflection and reconciliation leading up to Easter. So it was appropriate to take some time out of the busy-ness for a church service. And it felt right to spend some time on detailed arrangements for the Go Bananas event on Friday March 6th to raise awareness of the poor working conditions of the growers of unfairly traded bananas.
In between I even found time to enjoy the walks to and from meetings on a relatively mild spring day.

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