Cornwall Council Budget Scrutiny – Day 1

Today was the first day of Cornwall Councils budget Scrutiny by the various scrutiny committees. Children’s Schools and Families OSC was the first to examine its proposed cuts. For this directorate it is not as badly affected as other directorates, mostly because most of its budget for schools is ring-fenced (protected) and cannot be cut as it is a direct grant from Govt.

Sadly not all areas are protected. Once of these areas is the subsidy of Post-16 school travel. This for me is one of my red-lines and one that I think is a step too far in cutting. The Council wants to save £1m over two years from this service. This topic was one of the first areas to be discussed and it was discussed at length. Even the Portfolio Holder seemed reluctant that this should be included in the cuts. Many members of this committee spoke up in defence of protecting this service.

In the end a motion was made that I happily seconded that made it clear to the Cabinet this service should and must not be removed with money be taken out of other less critical areas of the CSF transport budget by means of better systems being in place to save money. So lets hope the Cabinet incorporates this into the budget before they as for the full Council to vote for it on the 30th November. If not, then there may well be a few more hands going up and voting against the budget proposals.

I asked a question that I was sent via Twitter from @savethepool and @robertrush  on the impact of a sports centre (Camelford) being closed down that provides swimming to schools. I received the answer that if the near-by pool was to close, then the school would have to fund the additional transport costs to get to another pool. It could do that out of its own budget or contributions from parents. Not greatest answer to get as school and family budgets are stretched enough already. Sadly this committee has no power to keep open a pool.

2 comments

  • CJI

    Thanks for asking the question about the swimming lesson transport.

    The 8 schools are going to need to find something like £38,000* of extra money, assuming that the next closest pool (Wadebridge) has available daytime slots (which we are told they don't).

    In addition the round-trip time increase means that, in an already packed school day for children under 11, the teachers are going to have to find another whole hour.

    This puts a huge spotlight on the Councils "silo" thinking about budgets, where the impact of one department’s cuts is not considered by another department.

    The same "silo" thinking that the Council have been criticised for previously by the Audit Commission.

    Thanks again Andrew for trying – much appreciated by the school staff, pupils and parents of North Cornwall.

    (*Further details on Facebook & http://www.saveourpool.org shortly)

  • Anonymous

    I have a 10 year old at Tintagel School who will have to travel to PLYMOUTH for swimming lessons…leaving village at 4.15pm for a half-hour lesson at 6pm, and home around 8.30pm…it's madness…please support us in every way you can..we are a very scattered, rural community at risk of losing our only usable leisure facility to bigger, more visitor appealling areas…but we live and belong here..what message does this send to our children about their worth, now and in the future,,thank you again..oh, for more like you!!!

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