Today is Surrey County Council’s full council meeting in Kingston. Agenda here.
The council will decide on revenue and capital budget 2016/17 to 2020/21 and Treasury Management Strategy Management Strategy. Item here.
Here is the press statement the Residents’ Association and Independent Councillors at Surrey County Council:
Cabinet Budget Papers Reveal Real Challenges Ahead Say Residents’ Association & Independent Councillors
Budget Papers drafted for the Conservative Cabinet’s recommendation to the Surrey County Council Budget Meeting on Tuesday 9th February have been released. The Residents’ Association and Independent County councillors have criticised the budget proposals for their failure to provide any details of cuts, service changes or higher charges.
The Budget Papers show a £46 million funding gap, of which £20 million the Conservative leadership failed to anticipate and they will now dip into the Council’s reserves to plug the hole. Leader of the Opposition Nick Harrison said:
“The Council is in a truly serious position as this is on top of an aggressive savings plan already in hand. The Council leader refused today to set out his stall and tell us where he expects the cutbacks to land. At the Council’s Budget Meeting the Conservatives will produce a budget of large generalised figures asking Members to vote it through without the detail. Those cuts only become public weeks after the budget is passed. This ‘trust me I’m a politician’ approach to the serious business of reductions to services is undemocratic and lacks any opportunity for informed discussion of spending and service priorities.”
Haslemere Independent County Councillor Nikki Barton said:
“I have real fears for the discretionary services provided by SCC. The funding of much of highways, Children’s Centres, libraries, waste and youth services is not required by law and all these important services could now face cuts. Due to cuts in the waste services budget, Haslemere has recently lost its valued Saturday dustcart collection. Furthermore, and of great local concern is that all SCC funded youth work sessions at Haslewey, the town’s youth centre, have recently been axed. There are fears that the requirement for the Transport Review to reduce transport budget by £2m by the end of 2017/18 will lead to reductions in much needed local bus services.”
RA County Councillor Eber Kington criticised the Conservatives for their complacency and failure to anticipate and prepare for the Rate Support Grant cut announced by the Government.
“For the past year they have been telling us that they have the County Council’s finances under control and at the December Council Meeting they used their large majority to pass a Motion warmly welcoming ’a new Conservative Government which is listening to the voice of Local Government’. I don’t see much evidence of the Government listening to Surrey County Council when it comes to funding and the needs of our residents.”
Last week, I was interviewed by BBC Surrey on the subject of SCC budgets. Here is my interview (2 hours and 9 minutes in) (23 days left to listen).