All the usual political theatre, with the completely predictable vote at the end ... and we politicians all wonder why people are switched off from politics?
Anyhow; huge amount of detail in the confirmed budget - but here's my quick analysis of some of the main differences and some of the problems that will quickly become apparent with what they've passed:
- both Labour (and Tories interestingly) put the 1.5% cut in School Budgets BACK INTO this year's figures ... some £2.7million would have been returned to schools. The Lib/Nats didn't, and instead allocated a paltry £250K to all of the city's schools - that's not very much for each school :-(
- in terms of allocation of additional funding to front line services ... here's the running order: Labour £28.1million; Tories £26.9million; Lib/Nats £25.6million. So, again, even the Tories appear to care more for front-line services than the current Administration.
- very worrying increases in the 'school let' figures - which we rejected in our proposals - with the Lib/Nats raising charges for these rentals very, very significantly. For example, to hire a general games hall goes up from £21.25 to £27.63 - that's a shocking 30% (yes, 30%) increase. In total, this area of income is going up by some £319,000 and I confidently predict real pain for many over this, and I doubt if any of the 29 Lib/Nats even realised they approved it in their budget.
- another £350,000 taken OUT OF Community Education - that's on top of the £850,000 last year - both cuts we rejected. Again, this will lead to serious service reductions in a whole host of areas and I doubt very much if those in charge politically, realise the full impact of what they've just agreed. I reckon the 'Scouts' and 'Lothian Association of Youth Clubs' can kiss goodbye to their seconded-posts, for example?
- No new monies for 'supported bus services' - this WILL come back to haunt them I'm sure - whilst we allocated an extra £300,000 to this area.
- No general uplift for voluntary organisations whatsoever - we did have 'inflation provision' for these organisations in our budget.
- No additional monies (once again, despite the avowed emphasis on 'doing things locally') for Neighbourhood Partnerships - we had put in an extra £600,000 for this.
- No extra monies for additional local Police Officers - the Libs had consistently failed to back this initiative when they were in Opposition and continue to show no real support - we had an extra £320,000 for this in our budget, which would have paid for 10 new Police Officers.
Pretty poor emphasis on 'front-line service delivery' really, and some very serious problems will arise out of what's just been approved - much of what's above, I am sure, you will be reading lots more about over coming months ... and not necessarily here on the Really Bad Blog :-(
On top of that - totally puerile comments from both the Convener and Vice-Convener of Finance that they purposefully didn't have any pre-budget communications (or discussions) with Labour, whilst they did have with the Tories and Greens?
... and apart from that, it's not strictly true, as Gordon did speak to us about support for Economic Development - and I have the e-mails to prove it.
All-in-all, pretty shoddy behaviour, backed up by pretty weak support for front-line service delivery.
Another bad day, and poor budget, for Edinburgh :-((