Friday, February 15, 2008

Not statutory; not necessary?

I've now read through the Budget Papers in detail - and it's really not good.

Basically, the budget (main agenda here) can be summed up as "if its not statutory, its not necessary".

'No added-value services here' - truly shocking ...

I appreciate I've gone on about Council financial issues at length - I won't repeat the whole debate here, but do have a look at this earlier post for a summation of the arguments - but things appear even worse now for next year:
  • £833,000 being wiped-out of Community Learning and Development - an area that's not, of itself, overspending. Tell me where the financial rationale is there? ... answer: there isn't one - its a political choice to decimate that service
  • school budgets being cut by a significant sum
  • Sure Start budget being completely decimated
  • Home Help service being slashed with some service being stopped completely
  • Nursery Places being further reduced
  • the list goes on and on ...

And its true, the Council DOESN'T HAVE to do provide any of the things that are being cut ... but remind me again what it is that assists Edinburgh to come near the top (if not top!) of most polls along the lines of 'Best Place to live in Britain?' - yes, "quality of life".

Well, for me at least, things like:

  • Community Development
  • Schools
  • Sure Start
  • Home Help
  • Nurseries

... ARE all about "quality of life".

Next week, when the budget is actually set, you'll hear lots about 'all the woes of the world being down to the evil-empire who ran the City so appallingly for 23-years' - when all those awards were won?? - and 'how there is now no choice but to cut services'. Well - that's quite simply rubbish.

This is all about political choice; do remember:

  • the Council's overall, combined annual revenue and capital budget is over £1billion
  • the Council owns over £2billion of fixed assets

And - very unfortunately from my political perspective - the Council is now being run by politicians who don't want to prioritise services for those most in need.

The Council could be making a positive choice to support schools, promote the economy, and protect the vulnerable.

Its not going to make that choice, instead those in charge are choosing to cut non-statutory services and blame their predecessors.

Result? - mark my words - Edinburgh will be the loser.

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