Skip to main content

At least fifty things in local govt Pickles is clueless about


Yesterday as a precursor to yet more cuts being made to local government funding, Eric Pickle's released his  "50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government" and its not too bad there are some good suggestions. A lot of it is straight from the para-Tory Taxpayer's Alliance, I'm not saying its all wrong. Things like cutting the top earners in local government, employing less consultants, great ideas and none of them are all together bad. But what is really striking is that of 50 suggestions nearly all of them are predominantly administrative 'sharing back off office functions', 'hot desking', 'less management training'. Which is all well and good but offers no advice on essential frontline services. Why the government who is after all in charge, has taken over 2 years to merely suggest these things is beyond me? I hate to tell Pickles etc their jobs, but there's a thing called parliament, if you introduce a bill, it passes it then becomes law and then with these laws you can enact change (just a thought Eric).

As much as I jest, there is a definite theme here the government has little real idea of the function of local government and what it takes to run it, which is why they have not passed legislation or come up with suggestions any sooner. Even Pickle's Fifty Shades of Matthew Sinclair suggests little thought has really gone in to the suggestions, millions slashed from budgets again and the help is 15 pages, 5188 words and although there may be fifty suggestions they are all hopelessly vague and not applicable to all authorities. Most notable in the piece is what is not said, nowhere does the document add up how much savings could be made by the proposals, not averaged or estimated, nothing, just vague rhetoric. The truth is all of these proposals would not save enough to ensure front line services in the face of drastic cuts to local government budgets.

There are many things not even mentioned in the document the key features and services of local government on the ground the ones that will be hit most (again) by Pickle's. For example how with falling budgets, rising costs and a rising population can authorities such as Cornwall Council:

Run a modern and efficient Fire and Rescue service increasing becoming specialised in dealing with road traffic accidents, boat and ship fires and dealing with flooding as well as the traditional fire fighting and fire prevention?

How can a modern school system be maintained, how can administrative costs make up for paying teachers, buying resources, building schools and maintaining them?

With more cars on the road year on year how can Cornwall Council's highways department maintain a safe and efficient road network for Cornwall without badly kept roads and more potholes everywhere?

How can we have decent Social Services providing care to the most vulnerable in society if the money to fund them is increasingly withheld by central government? How do we deal with an ageing population without the money to care for them?

How can Cornwall Council pay it's share of the police service funding?

These are merely five things, I have no doubt there is more than fifty not mentioned by Pickle's in his pseudo- advice for local government. I find this government overwhelming disappointing as time goes on, the mantra of cuts, and the myth they can be found through wastage and overspending alone, is a reality everyone but those in the corridors of power is waking up to. It is deplorable that the majority of work by Pickle's department is cuts, slashing budgets left, right and center and the only advice for dealing with them is under 6 thousand words. A document that does in no way identify clearly how these savings should be made, what stands to be lost and gained in terms of service and how much could be saved if they were all implemented. Frankly pathetic.

If you're interested the document is here 50 ways to save


















Popular posts from this blog

Why I'm voting to stay in the EU and why I think you should too

I haven't interacted much with the European Referendum campaign much. Perhaps it's because I'm too much of a political nerd and would love to see people debating the policies of the European Parliament rather than various name calling and scare mongering but anyway... There's a great deal to not like about the European Union. I'm not a defender of everything it does and the way it conducts itself. But I can say the same about a whole host of institutions and authorities. Which is why this post focuses  on a few of the things I think are important. I think the European Union is fundamentally a good idea. For 2 principle reasons, 1 the formation of the EU and greater European cooperation and understanding has led to the longest period of European peace in recorded history. If the history of Europe tells us anything then we are better off working with each other than we are fighting each other. I know that the EU will continue to exist if the UK votes to leave on th…

Meeting with Premier Inn about proposed Branwell's Mill development

As many of you will have read online and in the local papers. Premier Inn are interested in setting up a hotel in Branwell's Mill in Penzance. Last night members of the Town Council were invited to a presentation by the agents from the hotel chain in St John's Hall. The Town Council rightly has a clear position that it is neutral on this development. Due to Code of Conduct rules and particularly Section 25 of the Localism Act, councillors must not enter debates with a closed mind. Or to put in plain terms the council and councillors can not be seen to have made a decision before the meeting and before they see the facts before them of that meeting. As with any planning application in the parish of Penzance it will be reviewed, debated and voted on by Penzance Town Council  Added to the fact that I've seen a presentation for the developers but not been able to speak to hear other sides of the story. This post is primarily to inform yourselves of what is happening rather th…

Bona Vacantia, the Duchy of Cornwall, the case of the missing money

The Telegraph ran with a story about the income of the Duke of Cornwall from bona vacantia yesterday. This is when people die in Cornwall without a will or a next of kin then their possessions are deemed to be ownerless goods (the meaning of bona vacantia in Latin) and are appropriated by the Duchy of Cornwall. In England these 'goods' land, property, belongings, money and so on are appropriated by the Crown and passed over to the Treasury (i.e. the government) but in Cornwall now and since 1337 these unclaimed possessions pass to the Duchy. For centuries these assets merely became part of the heir to the English thrones fortune, but since the 1970s they have been passed to the Duchy of Cornwall's Benevolent Fund or at least that's the story. So upon reading the story I thought I'd have a quick look on the internet and see where this money went and the story of the money is very curious...

Firstly the Telegraph reports that the income to the Duchy from Cornwall'…