Cornwall Council, its Budget and My Amendment

It is that time again when Cornwall Council sets its budget for the following financial year. This will take place tomorrow and as last year, this budget is being set early. This has lead to some query as to why, considering a lot of the detail from central government is not quite firmed up.
A concern by many is the ‘too good to be true’ offer from Eric Pickles of £6m if a council does not raise the rate of council tax. The concern is this money is for one year only, and the worry is there will have to be a larger rise of over 5% in 2013/14 to maintain the current services, or worse, fine more ‘savings’ during that period. Those not wanting to see a large rise in the 2013/14 period prefer a split rise of 2.5% for 2012/13 and 2013/14. 
Cornwall Council is not alone in this dilemma as other local authorities will have to make similar decisions. Some have already said they will turn down this offer from Mr Pickles because they believe it is more a political gimmick. For me, I am split on this, as I welcome a no percentage rise, but also understand services still have to be provided. 
I have though put in my own amendment to the budget. This amendment has to be legally and financially correct, and has to be signed off by both. I am pleased to say it has, on both counts. The amendment is a follows:
“That £350,000 is permanently vired from the Leader’s Contingency Budget with £175,000 of the said virement being transferred to the public convenience budget and £175,000 of the said virement transferred to the public transport budget”.

Currently the Leader’s Contingency Budget is set at £1 million, but will be reduced (already in the budget) to £600,000 for the 2012/13 period. However, in the 2010/11 period this budget was only £200,000. I believe £250,000 is a more realistic budget considering the current economic climate, and the pressures facing so many other services.
As to what has been spent from this fund I will allow you to be the judge of this. From the last information I have been sent these are the items so far funded (with the information provided)

 2010/11: 

  • £4k for Celtic County Pavillions – this is cost of supporting the Cornish Pavilion at the International Lorient Festival 2010
  • £8k for consultancy on apprasial/coaching – The consulting appraisal process and coaching expenditure of £8,000 was an external independent appraisal of the Chief Executive.  The report produced by the independent appraiser was reviewed by a cross party panel of members
  • 36k for the Penhallow Inquest
  • 10K Male Voice Choir – Transferred to Localism
2011/12:

  • £50k for Camelford Leisure 
  • £80k for Olympic Torch
  • £100,000 for the 2014 Tall Ships
Even if you add another £100,000 spending to the 2011/12 period this still leaves over £650,000 unspent. I believe this money could be better spent elsewhere like the two areas in my motion. This motion, like the others submitted will be debated by the whole council on Tuesday. I am hopeful that my motion will be supported by my colleagues because both areas are important and are facing difficult budgetary pressures.  

For those who are wondering why there is no mentio of either the stadium or the failed Plymouth World Cup bid these were funded from different pots of money. The stadium from the Economic Development Services’ Economic Initiatives Fund.  With the World Cup bid from the Corporate Contingency Budget.

Roll on Tuesday….


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