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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Ealing Council's Budget Cuts

On Tuesday Ealing Council agreed to cut about £55 million pounds from their budgets. Despite the Council leader stating this all the coalition government's fault only about 20 of the huge £55 million pounds figure is actual cuts. The rest a combination of efficiency savings or contractual changes to reduce the cost of the council pays companies.

Some areas are of concern:

I have some notes of what was agreed in terms of the budget cut and what it means: 

Councillor’s allowances - there are some special allowance cuts mentioned but no details. Apparently it means that a number of scrutiny committees will be cut leading to a less democratic Ealing Council. It means Ealing residents and opposition Councillors are less likely to be able to scrutinise what the Labour administration are doing or what mistakes they are making. The Lib Dem suggestion is to cut ALL the special councillor allowance by the same amount meaning no committees are lost but just the chairs (who get the allowance) get less. 
Park Ranger cuts – the cuts to the rangers are very severe (at over 50% of them losing their jobs). Liberal Democrats believe that these cuts (labelled as efficiency savings) will mean that our parks are left uncared for and in a poor state of repair which may lead to a future need for more costly spending on maintenance and upgrading. It is said that the police will patrol the (current) rangers’ areas but the police have not been asked so far as I understand. They would not wish to do the rangers’ job given they are stretched as well. In these cuts some areas cannot avoid cuts but these are very harsh.
Police & Community Safety matters – There are a number of PCSO cuts with a number of new PCs. This may appear to be helpful but it seems to contradict with the Council’s current pledge of Safer Communities. What are the implications of this cut on our parks and streets?
Given that many ward (SNT) teams are being moved to assist other wards (against the rules when they were set up) doing nationally related crime tasks Liberal Democrats believe more discussion is needed so that the police, enviro-crime officers and the police all know what each other will do so that things do not fall through the gaps.
I think a number of these cuts will hurt residents and so the policing ones need to be looked at in more detail with related areas of council so that we can be assured things will not turn out badly for residents. The administration didn't seem to want to discuss these later. They want to make the cuts now and hope things turn out okay. Not what most would call a useful approach.

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