Friday, January 04, 2013

Life is gradually getting back to normal after the Christmas and New Year holiday period.  The email inbox is filling up again and the phone ringing with queries of one kind and another.
Having had it confirmed that the last 12 months have been extremely wet in this part of the country, it's no wonder that there are complaints about potholes, water-logging, standing water and so on.  Alan Lewis and I follow up on each and every complaint but it sometimes takes quite a time to get answers and then they're not always what we want to hear.  Cuts in the roads maintenance budget across the borough don't make it any easier to get things done quickly.
In no time at all there will be meetings within the council to decide on the budget for the year 2013/14.  Stockton Council has for many years worked on a rolling 3 year financial plan, thus doing away with the old system of suddenly spending up money in February and March so that it wasn't lost when April came.  That's enabled the council under whichever leadership prevailed at the time to have a planned approach to the budget.
That approach is being made more difficult at the moment by the heavy cuts that have been needed to cope with the national deficit - a deficit which the local Labour party seem to forget was racked up during their party's 13 years in government and which was described in the famous note from their Treasury Secretary to the incoming one "Sorry, there's no money left".
There are going to be some tough decisions to make over the next couple of months, but I'll be in there with the other Lib Dems fighting to keep the best of what we've got and to stop any silly party politics causing problems for residents like are happening in some parts of the country.  At least Stockton's Labour party hasn't followed Derby's in proposing a charge for the collection of recyling!  To be fair to them I don't think it would enter their thinking in any serious way.  Nor do I think they're going to follow Newcastle's Labour group in suggesting that the Arts aren't worth supporting.
On a more cheerful note, we should see the official re-opening of Preston Hall Museum in the next couple of months.  Although visitors have been enjoying it for almost 6 months now it hasn't had its formal opening, so now that the Olympics and royal jubilee are over it could be Preston Hall's turn for a moment of glory - watch this space for details!

No comments: