Today, Councillors of Cornwall Council set a four-year budget. It is a difficult budget and no-one would like to have to set this budget. This budget will result in reductions of services and job losses. However, were the Council can, we have protected services to the most vulnerable and highways. I like many other people in local government never got into this game to have to do these horrible cuts.
Since the formation of Cornwall Council, the Council has had endless budget reductions. Of course, the Council cannot just blame someone else. It had to look at itself to make sure services are as streamlined as possible. I believe the Council has done this. You only got to look at the number of staff reductions and service harmonisation to realise the Council has (and continues) to make sure services are delivered in the best possible way. However, even with the Council examining itself, these latest reductions are firmly due to the draconian cuts to funding imposed by the Government.
During the six-hour debate with four amendments to the budget, Councillors gave their views on the merits of the budget and how their political party knows best. Once you take out the political posturing, Members raised the point why the cuts have had to happen. I also do not believe utopia will be found post the General Election in 2015. It has been made clear by various political parties there will not be a sudden rush of ‘new’ money post this election. From my experience, it is never new money, it is recycled money and something somewhere else has to stop to pay for the ‘new’ money.
The Cabinet and now today the Council have set a budget that will hopefully give some stability to deliver the services people require. This budget will not be easy to deliver, and it will be down to the dedication of the staff to deliver. They will be asked to deliver this budget with fewer resources. I wish we did not have to set a budget like this, but there is little choice. As you cannot lose one-third of your budget and still be able to deliver the same level of service. The delivery of service is made more difficult because they is also an increased demand on those services.
At the end of the emotive debate, Councillors voted in favour of the budget by 69 for, 21 against and 19 abstention.