The event was run by Finance Director Michael Crich and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Chairman John Keeling. Many thanks to them and to the other scrutiny members who came along. It's a pity that none of the Cabinet members who are making the cuts came along, but we were told that the points raised would be fed back to them.
The worry with these events is whether they are mere window dressing or whether the views expressed here or at the previous three events (or via the website) will actually have a hope of changing the detail of what actually happens. The Conservative and Independent groups have already had a briefing on the likely cuts package - which does not bode well - but we were assured that nothing has yet been finalised.
What is certain is that both John and Michael ran a decent event and they listened to the views expressed without feeling the need to respond in detail or refute every point made. They weren't on the defensive.
The audience was given scope to raise any issue they wanted. The points I noted included:
- Don't sell land simply to raise short term cash
- Don't raise car park prices too high
- Consider a sale and leaseback deal for council buildings
- Don't pay for the extension of Tate St Ives
- Don't cut back care for the elderly
- Maintain Community Networks
- Cut back on Community Networks
- Reduce the size of the planning department so more applications for wind turbines are let through
- Raise money through enterprise
- Reduce every budget by the same percentage so that cheaper services are not cut out of existence
- Don't cut leisure facilities, particularly Camelford swimming pool
- Cut the capital programme, not front line services
- Cut Newquay Airport
- Raise Council Tax for second homes
- and so on
The draft budget proposals are due to be published at some point next week.