Council announces 'There will be no cuts next year'
Residents' Party Councillor Keith Mann has announced that "there will be no cuts in services this year". Only residents can decide if this was pre-election propaganda.
Coming as it did in advance of the meeting at which the draft budget was to be discussed and ahead of the forthcoming national Spending Review, this statement is yet another demonstration of the autocratic approach of some members of the ruling group on Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, despite having a majority of just 6.
The statement is ill-considered and takes no account of what restrictions or cuts might be placed upon our local authority by others e.g. the Police, Surrey County Council and central government. It may well depend upon the ruling group's interpretation of what constitutes a "cut" and a "vital service", but given their recent history, their definition of a "vital service" has the potential to be very different from everyone else's.
The article makes no mention of discussion with other councillors, both those in power and in opposition. Any consultation with the public as to how the council's money should be spent is obviously out of the question for Cllr Mann: this is the very same Councillor who two years ago said, in response from a question put in the council chamber "we will never consult residents about spending on individual proposals, because they could then blame us for an increase in council tax".
More importantly, this statement is a cynical attempt to claw back public support for the ruling group after a disastrous year during which they introduced parking charges for Blue Badge holders, closed public toilets and removed daytime facilities for older folk. No-one would argue with the sentiments of Cllr Mann's statement, indeed in an ideal world one would hope for vital services to be extended and improved, but Cllr Mann would have done better to be more professional and considered in his approach. Local government budgets are a serious business and flippant statements, from any political party, really do not help with public confidence or support.
More details of the council's proposed budget strategy can be found by looking at the agenda of the Strategy & Resources Committee meeting on 28th September. www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk