Tuesday, 7 December 2010

If 700 jobs are to go, why were councillors told the figure is 2000

Cornwall Council's Chief Executive Kevin Lavery is in the press today saying that the authority may have to make 700 redundancies. Yet as recently as last Friday (at the Full Council budget setting meeting), we were being told that the figure was up to 2000.

Of course it is good news that the council is not going to make so many people redundant. But surely councillors should be given the most up to date details when they are considering a budget?

During the meeting, my colleague George Edwards raised the issue of job losses and asked about the 2000 figure. He pointed out that the council had already got rid of 1300 posts through natural wastage. He asked why we needed to lose a further 2000. That would have been the perfect chance for the administration to say that the latest figures are just 700. But they failed to take it.

The budget is a very difficult balancing act. There are different political opinions on the correct course of action but those decisions are not helped if councillors are not given the full and up to date details.


allan125 said...

Perhaps you can advise why only 100 Councillors were in attendance at the Emergency Budget when the council website shows 122 Councillors and 1 vacancy - approx 18% of the full council were absent and no reasons are shown, all we are given is 60 for the emergency budget, 39 against and 1 abstention, but no sign of apologies for absence of these missing 22? If they cannot turn up at an Emergency Budget, which had already been moved because of bad weather, surely it is time to question whether we need 122 (or 123!) councillors

Alex Folkes said...

Hi Allan
Thanks for the post. I can shed little light on why individual cllrs were missing. The one abstention was the Chairman who, although present, does not vote.
As for others - there were at least five councillors who were present for the morning but had to leave for the afternoon due to other engagements or, in one case, illness. One of these was my colleague Les Donnithorne who had to attend the memorial service for his niece.
Whilst the budget is the most important debate of the year, it was rearranged for the Friday with incredibly short notice due to the weather. My personal view is that more notice should have been given - ie the meeting held 7 days after the original date rather than three.

Liberal Neil said...

Has Cornwall looked at alternatives to job losses such as an across the board pay cut, or an across the board small decrease in hours (possibly protecting the lower paid with either option)?

One of the good things about how the private sector repsonded to the recession was to 'share the pain' across all employees rather than sacking a proportion.

Local Governmen should try to do the same.

allan125 said...

Hi Alex

Many thanks for the explanation - but still no excuse for the media missing it as the information was obviously out there. With your colleague attending a memorial service that obviously takes priority, it should have been marked as an apology for absence.

Maybe the great British public, in the main, just accept what the papers print and don't question it!! As the weather is so changeable at present I suppose they had to do the best that they could in the circumstances - I agree more notice should have been given, but it could just as easily be worse seven days later than the original date as better!!

Michelle Davey said...

To allan125: A full attendance list, including apologies that were given, are published on the Council's website. If you contact Democratic Services they will be more than happy to send you a link or direct you to the right page.

allan125 said...

Thanks Michelle - but just reporting on the people who were there doesn't show the full story does it - I had looked on the council website earlier to check on apologies etc. but the link on
http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=26767 actually states "....Elected Members at last Friday’s meeting of the full Council voted by 60 votes to 39 to approve the emergency budget which sets out the Council’s overall approach to meeting the anticipated 30% reduction in Government following" (probably mean't to be funding not following!!) - and of course it doesn't truly represent the Full Elected members of the Council does it!! Pedantic maybe, but it should be reported correctly, and you shouldn't have to search elsewhere on the council website for the full story - and the media failed to report that approx 18% of the Full Council were not there (for whatever reasons) and the "missing" 22 could have changed the result, by 1 vote, if they had all voted against the motion!!