Full Council Debates and Votes on the Budget for 2014/15

Today, the Full Council of Cornwall Council met to debate and decide the Budget for 2014/15. The Cabinet has pulled no punches who have repeatedly said the future is stark and there is going to be a lot of pain for the Council in having to deal with the staggering cuts in grant funding from Government; but still having to provide an ever increasing demand on those services the Council provides.

The vote is simple, Councillors have the choice to either vote for the Budget, or vote against. This makes things a little simpler, but for those who decided to vote against – either individually or as group – no alternative Budget(s) were put forward. Which is disappointing, as merely voting against without trying to do a better Budget is just not good enough in today’s difficult climate.

I can say this as a Portfolio Holder, Local Member and resident of Cornwall, it is not my wish to reduce services, but I have little choice in having to look at how services are provided. This will mean some services stopping. We do have a duty to make sure the ever reducing pot of money the Council receives – without the means to raise Council Tax without a expensive referendum – goes further.

However, there are no money trees, Leprechaun’s pot of gold or any other mythical ways of raising money. Therefore, and regrettable, we will have to make some pretty touch choices in the coming years.

Of course, the debate had the standard political swipes, but with no alternative budget having been put forward it is little hard to take the criticism, when those who do not like it do not take the time to work up their own Budget. I know in the past I have not liked certain aspects of the Budget, and have put in alternative elements of the Budget. But this is politics and I expected little else.

So how did it go? Was the Budget passed? Yes it was, and by a large margin too. The actual vote was 77 for the Budget, with 33 against. I think it was also the first time there were no abstentions. The approved Budget includes a rise of Council Tax of 1.97%. I should point this raise only includes the Cornwall Council element of Council Tax, but does not include the town/parish council and the Police element.

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