County Council budget consultation

budgetCambridgeshire County Council is seeking economies of nearly £150m over the next five years, to cope with a growing population and less funding from central government. The Council has launched its annual consultation and is asking residents for views on what the priorities should be for 2015/16.

Residents are being asked to give the council their views on where it should be saving money. An online consultation has been launched this week (August 11) and there will also be door-to-door surveying. The survey looks at specific issues surrounding our savings whilst also seeking public opinion around council tax levels.

You can contribute on the County’s dedicated budget site, which shows graphically how the ‘cake’ is divided at present (two huge slices for children’s and adults services, a modest slice for transport and slivers for everything else).

There is a series of questions about the Council’s current objectives and you’re asked to say how important they are firstly for you and your family; and secondly, for Cambridgeshire as a whole. There’s also a chance to choose three areas to spend extra money on in the (unlikely) event that finances improve.

Then the slightly academic questions of whether you would raise council tax in order to avert cuts to services, or to improve them. Academic because for many years, councils have been capped, not allowed by central government to raise council tax by more than 2%.

Comments about the Council’s priorities or ideas for delivering services better or more efficiently can also be sent to:

Research & Performance Team: Budget Consultation, SH1306 Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AP

The consultation closes on 29 September 2014.

Cambridgeshire County Council Budget Debate – the Liberal Democrat approach

kilianThe following is the transcript of the speech given yesterday by Cllr Kilian Bourke the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cambridgeshire County Council. He was speaking in relation to the Conservative Business Plan for 2013/2014 (aka the budget);

“Despite the very considerable variations in the Conservatives’ approach to the Council’s Business Plan over the last four years, this budget confirms that some things have stayed the same.

The administration has not lost its appetite for big, grand projects (especially ones that are made of concrete) but nor has it cured itself of its inability to deliver them well.

For all the headline-grabbing numbers in the capital column, the fact is that the Conservatives have messed up on their duty to provide basic council services to the public, and this budget does not change that.

And if there is one thing the public asks and expects of its Councils, it is for them to provide basic services well.

Having been in control of the council for too long, this administration has become wedded to the trappings of power—too attached to its grandiose surroundings to sell off the most inefficient building in the estate, when this could provide funds to protect services.

The Conservative Leader’s strange views on climate change are being imposed on half a million Cambridgeshire people. (more…)

Lib Dem budget harvests green energy to protect services

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have revealed ambitious plans to harness the power of solar energy and wind to bring in millions of pounds every year to protect county council front-line services.

The Lib Dem budget amendment and supporting text are available online here:

Their alternative Cambridgeshire County Council budget includes a £20 million investment in solar energy and a new wind farm that would generate £2.5 million a year.

In addition they would sell off the council’s headquarters at Shire Hall and dispose of some of the council’s “bloated” property portfolio to bring in a further £20 million plus.

“These are difficult times for local government, particularly in Cambridgeshire, where this year the interest payments on the guided busway will wipe out almost half of the funds brought in by the council tax increase,” said Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Leader, Kilian Bourke. (more…)