Ealing Council have been preparing for the day when the Council Tax is set in Ealing; in March. We all knew the cuts were coming and the Labour group are being mischievous in putting all the blame on the Coalition Government - especially as we are all paying the price for Gordon Brown's failure to control government spending or to regulate the banks when Labour were in Government.
To aid this process many proposals have been considered and my party, the Liberal Democrats, have been scrutinising the Labour-run Ealing Council as well as suggesting areas where cuts should occur.
The question Liberal Democrats ask when a proposal is considered is who might suffer, in what way and how many people might be affected. Over many years, government and Council budgets can increase with projects that offer little to Ealing. How can we set a budget with the fewest number of individuals being adversely affected? For those who might lose their jobs the Council needs to be pro-active to ensure there are opportunities to be employed in other Council roles.
My party believes that front-line services are the key, as they are what residents and businesses in Ealing see and experience. I would rather see fewer managers to fund more ‘do-ers’ as they can really make a difference.
To this end the Liberal Democrat group in Ealing have been campaigning against Ealing Council plans to make cuts which will clearly have a negative outcome:
· Halving the Park Ranger service
· The 50 percent cut to the enviro-crime team who work to reduce fly-tipping, graffiti and other environmental crimes on our streets
· Substantial cuts to the policing budget
· Closing a number of day care centres that many vulnerable residents use
But we have not raised our voice against all cuts. We have looked at each proposal in turn and have supported some but not those where people would suffer.
To help bring money into the Council and avoid some of the cuts like the park rangers and enviro-crime officers the Liberal Democrat group have supported the following actions:
· Reducing allowances for all Councillors and some payments to Councillors who chair committee meetings
· Cancelling vacancy posts where they have been unfilled for a long time
· Reducing the spend by Ealing Council on media activities
· Looking to alter methods so that more Ealing staff can work from home which can help reduce job stress and sickness levels
· Being tougher on contractors when they fail to deliver in areas such as collecting your household waste or sweeping our streets. We only pay when they provide a good service
· Pressing that the Council prioritises the most in need, first, and not building such a large car park that costs £5.5 million
Clearly in times where the previous government spent recklessly without thinking of the effect locally, that is sad. However Liberal Democrats in Ealing are fighting to keep those vital front-line services which mean so much to so many.