Monday, 25 October 2010

So what did Cornwall say about cuts?

In an interview with Radio Cornwall today, Council Leader Alec Robertson seemed to rely heavily on what the people of Cornwall said when asked about potential cuts. But is this what Cornwall really thinks and is Cornwall Council really acting on what they said?

To find out what people in Cornwall think, the Council opened up a page on their website and held four public events around Cornwall. They also issued a questionnaire to ask people which they felt were the most 'expendable' services - but this equated Adult Care (more than £100 million per year) with Cornish Studies (about £100,000 per year).

As a result, we don't know whether the survey was accurate or not (but hey, when you are planning to make £110 million of cuts, why bother trying to make sure you know exactly what people think). But let's just assume it was. As Cllr Robertson said:

"Cornwall has told us that we must prioritise vulnerable people and children, and that leisure services where there are subsidies will have to be reduced."

He's right about adult care and young people, but actually respondents nominated Newquay Airport, licensing, economic development, cultural services, conservation and street lighting (among others) above leisure services when it came to cuts. So what has Cornwall Council decided to do in the budget?

The biggest front line service cut is proposed to be Adult Care (ie vulnerable people) and other top targets for cuts will be young people who need financial help traveling to college.

Whilst there are some cuts from virtually every department, there appears to be nothing cut from economic development, conservation or street lighting despite these being more popular cut targets than leisure.

So it appears that the consultation with the public is only being quoted when it suits the pre-determined cuts agenda.

Incidentally, this morning Cllr Robertson and Council Chief Executive Kevin Lavery held a press conference to announce the proposed budget. Lib Dem Group Leader Doris Ansari went along to hear what they had to say, only to be thrown out of the event because apparently:

"Press conferences are private meetings"

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