Tuesday, 13 December 2011

'Cut' - The Forbidden Word

Contrary to what you may think from my last couple of posts concerning the miraculous generosity shown to the Towy Community Church, Carmarthenshire Council is having to make around £8.6m worth of cuts from next years budget. The proposed cuts are outlined here, (the page is a bit odd, you may have to scroll down a bit), I daresay, over the next few weeks the Council will be doing their 'public consultation' bit and asking a few simple 'tickbox' options like last year, nothing too detailed for the peasantry. Various Scrutiny Committees are chewing over the details at the moment too. Before I mention some of the highlights, I have been wondering if there is some unwritten rule amongst Council Resources/PR departments not to actually use the word 'cut'. If so then it must have been quite a challenge to think of so many alternatives, is there a special council Thesaurus specifically for this purpose? The document uses the following;
review, rationalise, re-structure, re-negotiate, re-configure, re-develop, re-provision, re-align, recharge, re-model, regionalisation, delete, efficiency, decommission, externalise, decrease, terminate, close, reduce and phase out...

A few items which may be of interest at this early stage include several that didn't make it through last year's budget deliberations. The raising of school meals over the rate of inflation and reducing choice in secondary schools meals is on the cards again (making them the highest priced in Wales) and the removal of free transport for sixth formers; the slashing of the school's music budget by £250k next year and public library funding slashed by £145k over the next three years. Parking charges for Blue Badge holders appears again along with increased car parking fees to raise £150k next year. I am sure the traders at the new Carmarthen market will be delighted to know their rents are in line for an increase too. Cuts are proposed for the Citizens Advice Bureau, community and youth club grants, Welsh language grants and Women's Aid and it looks like they're doing away with the museums altogether. Three day centres for adults with learning difficulties will be 're-provisioned' and 48 posts in 'home care' will have the 'hours externalised' - I imagine the council is looking to the private sector in these areas. Of course the elderly care homes are up for closure again and a respite home for 30 disabled children is earmarked for the axe in 'year 3', saving £373k. Over £500k in roads maintenance will possibly be cut over three years so it looks like the potholes may be here to stay. A mere £5000 is proposed to be cut from 'Civic/Ceremonial' over three years so I imagine the limos are safe for a little longer. That's lucky then.

I could be wrong but I can't detect any pruning of the PR and Press department either within these proposals nor the axing of the council rag but I suppose Carmarthenshire Council needs all the pointless self-promotion they can get these days. Maybe there will even be some spare to webcast meetings. Neither are any cuts to top management or their associated top salaries apparent. Perhaps I could suggest a few things; cut down on the hotels...cut down on evangelical bowling alleys....cut down on the heating in County Hall (it's like a sauna and is probably breeding all sorts of unhealthy germs) and how about, as a really magnanimous gesture, the Chamber could complete it's near transformation into a day centre for the elderly, the presidential suite given over to a soup kitchen and all the top brass could set up shop in the nuclear bunker.

Carmarthenshire Council Nuclear Bunker for when the s**t hits the fan

I know I'm beginning to ramble, and I realise all councils are faced with 'tough decisions', and I am sure similar proposals are on the agenda for heated council budget debates throughout the UK. Let's just hope Carmarthenshire handles it all with transparency and fair debate. There's a first time for everything.


Cneifiwr said...

This has to be one of the most shameful documents I have ever seen, with the authors of the report openly acknowledging that for many vulnerable children, struggling families, etc., the consequences are likely to be very bad indeed.

At least we'll all be able to go 10 pin bowling and nip next door afterwards for a quiet prayer of thanks.

caebrwyn said...

@Cneifiwr Shameful indeed, I at a loss to understand the arrogance of those who decided that £1.4m was best spent on a bowling alley and a church. I wonder if my blog visitors from the Evangelical Alliance etc have read the document?

Anonymous said...

i'm beginning to wonder if the cuts are more than what the national deficit actually is. are they rebudgeting more than what is necessary?
take parking rises - for what purpose? say for example ammaford - hardly ever any maintenance gets done there so what is the purpose of having carparking fees if any car parks do not get maintained at all or if very very little maintainances.. oh of course, it is a source of revenue that gets spent elsewhere..

managment chief exec dept cuts - 0.5m going somewhere. how much money will get spent making someone redundant? or are they all having a 50k pay cut?

mangemnet Education & Children - -406, -330= - 436 and an extra -505m in 2014 = -941m ..but that is being offset by the WA with school building announcements last week?...

as fr the policy side, how come so much off the mangerial side but not much off on the policy side next year and the year after?

it all looks shocking. social care is doomed, education and technical services.. so, how is it business rates and council tax going up again? (anon 2)

Anonymous said...

grrr births, marriage and death certificates going up wtf?

cutting builders recycling scheme - so where are they going to dump waste? or are fees secretley going up somewhere else? so muc for the principle of recycling.

cleansing dept - -22k + -22k .. to me that means getting shot of 4 workers or summat or a combination of workers and contracts such as pressure washer to get shot of chewing gum.

public transport cut could mean stopping a certain service.

corporate insurance - pays to shop around.. is it possible they could have had cheaper insurance elsewhere years ago?

school dinners up. walk to school even if it means 2.75miles

adult learning down...

have we really been overspeding that much or am i missing something somewhere?

maybe fornighly refuse is on the way? (anon2)

Dic said...

Ironic too that just as Mary Portas recommends cutting town centre parking charges, CCC is planning to jack them up even more. And it's not just Ammanford where they grab the money and do no maintenance. Gigantic potholes and small lakes of standing water now in a car park which until a few years ago was free where I live.