The Cabinet Budget – The day before

The final recommendation from Cornwall Council’s Cabinet will discussed tomorrow, Wednesday, before they are presented to full Council on the 30th November. For the full Agenda and reports, click HERE. For me, during the scrutiny process there was two major redlines that I just could not support. These were Post-16 school travel subsidy and the evening bus route subsidy.  I am very pleased that both these will now not be cut. As I have posted before, I really think the reason these were not included is because of serious back-bench pressure.
Sadly on page 10-11 of the report the recommendation from the Communities OSC is for further and more in dept information on the cuts to the library service will not be accepted. I do believe this is a mistake and the information should be available to that committee and other Members. The answer in the report “additional papers will be made available to the committee to reassure members and further work will be completed by the Library Review Group prior to the implementation of this saving”.  My understanding is that this group is not looking at cutting and/or closing libraries, but better working practices that will make this service better for the 21st century. From my view this is a sensible and welcome view by this group as I am sure savings can be made by this means.
More worrying in the report is the figure of 12.7% in first year cuts to the Grants. The Council has planned for 10%, but announced at the County Council Networks last week was the figure of 12.7%. This is very worrying as this would result in a shortfall of £5.8 million of funding and would result in further cuts. This would mean those areas that were left out, would now be in the firing line. If you think these current recommendation are bad, they are nothing compared to what was considered and dismissed when this budget was being prepared. If this figure of 12.7% does materialise, then I will be really worried.
In the report are details of the Capital Program (page 13-14). In there is something that I will be asking further clarification as to understand why are we spending money on this. The project is called a ‘Medical Innovation Centre’ and this is included in the £39 million of capital spending under Economy and Regeneration. At this stage I am struggling to see why the Council is getting involved with a project like this, surely this is the domain of the NHS. I am sure as the sun comes up that I will be given the rationale as to why this is a must have for the Council. In the same document Solar Park 2 is listed in the program. That will be another £14 million to borrow.
I know it has not been an easy task to compile this budget, and I know many people are still not happy with it. For me, I am pleased that those areas I campaigned for are not included. It is still going to be a difficult budget to introduce and I am still not sure if will find overwhelming support on the 30th November.

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