Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Budget comments - part 3

I'm back from a week off and thought I would answer some more of the comments posted as part of the council's budget consultation:

Suggestion:
Well, Cornwall Council, you are still charging the poorest in Cornwall 25% Council Tax (Cameron's reintroduction Poll Tax from April this year), and are still taking people to court for non-payment of this by the thousand.
Wouldn't it be much better if you sorted that out for the next buget?
Other councils are refusing to pass this burden on - and you must do the decent thing too.


Response:
I well understand the concern that this change generated. The decision was made by the full council last year. It's a decision I disagreed with at the time and voted against, but I have to respect the decision made by the majority. The council has, however, started a review of the impact of all welfare changes and, if this has created a problem that we can address then we will ask the full council to do so in time for next year. We are not allowed to make changes mid-year.

Suggestion:
how much does the chief exec get paid ffs, if you need us to provide the answers isn't he paid too much ???

Response:
The previous chief executive was on a salary range of £180,000 - £200,000 and was actually paid at the top of that range. When he left and an interim chief exec was appointed, the council asked for and received expert advice that the salary ranges for top officers had fallen in recent years by about 10%. We chose to cut that salary range for the interim by 12% and so the job now pays between £158,000 and £175,000. I would anticipate that, if any of the other directors leave, then we would be looking to cut the salary range for their replacements by a similar proportion.

Suggestion:
I believe in local solutions most definitely. I am 25 and disabled and I want to see people like me able to use the skills that they do have on a voluntry basis throughout our county to contribute to the lives of others, even if it is just in some small way and maybe even for an hour a week doing whatever we can get involved in without being talked out of it by the job center or being treated like a total convict by ATOS. People that are on disability benifits may have a physical or mental incapacity but it does not mean that they are totally absent of any need for human contact, social integration, learning new skills, enjoyment etc... You see people like myself at times can be the Local Solution that you are talking about but instead on a national level their is no encouragement for us disabled folk to be anything other than written off. I am 25 years old, fairly intelligent... before i got ill I was very good at working with young people, I was very good at talking to older people that perhaps had a mental disability like alzheimers and the point is I didnt mind talking to these folks and yet I sit here day in day out being frightened to do anything at all in case i get told that i am fit to work. This isnt the case but for those of us that want to do things like this for maybe an hour a week to just help someone else out, just out of kindness to give carers a break or to help out local charities to improve our own mental health and the skills i mention above- we get the impression that we cant or arent allowed to. So many people in this county go above and beyond and CC isnt utilizing those skills or coordinating it in a way that could actually save the services many people desperately need. I cant believe we are talking about Budget Cuts again because pretty soon their isnt going to be anything left to cut. All of our services for vulnerable people are turning into skeleton services - you are giving just enough money for projects / schemes still to be run but it is the absolute bare minimum to see the staff and services through especially vulnerable people support services and it is absolutely appalling and negligent. We as in a collective we need to start looking after people again and then may be people will be bothered to get behind your "local solutions" idea.

Response:
I agree. We should always be seeking to use the skills and abilities of all Cornwall's residents and never ignoring the input that any individual can make - whatever their circumstances. The cuts being made at the moment (and in the future) are due to the national situation and the cut in grants being given to us. That is why we have said that we cannot simply continue to chip away at every service - eventually reducing them to nothing. We have to review what we do and what we want to look like as a council in four years time. That is the point of our consultation and why I am starting on a 19 meeting tour of Cornwall.

Suggestion:
Cancel the proposed waste incinerator at St. Dennis. It is too expensive, obsolete technology, and would lock Cornwall into it until 2036, and as I understand it the council of the time would be landed with the cost of decommissioning and landscape restoration etc. rather than the waste company SITA.

Response:
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision on handling Cornwall's waste, and on the incinerator, the final decision was made by the previous administration. We are in a position now where any alternative would cost us far more than we could possibly save by adopting a different approach. At a time when money is so tight, we simply cannot contemplate this.

There are a couple more suggestions that I am getting answers to and I will post these as and when I have them.

1 comment:

Bob Turner said...

I believe you are wrong in making that judgement.The Eunomia report on the SITA contract is as valid now as it was last November despite the apparent fait accompli left by the last administration.The shared services contract was a done deal but where are Kevin and Alex now? It is high time the tail stopped wagging the dog.
cheers Bob Turner