Tomorrow night (2nd March) is the night the axe falls in K&C. The agenda is set to bring in an austerity package the likes of which we in K&C have never seen before.
17:30 it all kicks off, at Hornton Street and its expected to see a large contigent of people determind to register their protest at the budget cuts to be baa'd through by the ruling Tory majority. The opposition will be split, Labour will propose alternatives that will simply be voted out by the blues, whereas the LibDems will probably be sat on the fence smarting over such a paltry answer to their appeal for more money for themselves.
Family and Childrens services will see a budget reduction of £2.2 million.
Housing, Health and Adult Social care, by £250,000
Transport, Environment and Leisure by more than £3 million
Corporate Services by almost £ 2 million
In addition to headline service area budget cuts, council salaries are to be frozen, community groups will see their funding reduced or cut, and staffing levels will change. On top of that charges for council services will be increased, such as parking, attendance fees and residential services like pest control.
But are the priorities right?
We see the council adopting the recommendations for their allowances, seeing them pocket a nice £10,600 each, and of course the Dear Leader and the sycophants cream off between £30,000-£65,000 more because the have special responsibilities.
Special Responsibilities? Planning Policy. What does that mean....? its a trumped up excuse to have someone who is probably more dangerous to be on the outside of the leadership team than being inside. The council sets the planning policy and the paid service of the authority execute it. It doesnt need to have a Cabinet Member and a Lead Member.
So all in all councillor compensation is by and large protected from the stringent cuts hoisted on the rest of the council. Scant consolation to the users of the Laymer Childrens Centre who see their centre closed without alternative provision, or increases to the costs of meals at day centres, and the Brompton Cemetery budget being removed "pending a decision on its future management".
Life will never be the same again. For some at least.
Make no mistake, the reason for this is largely due to the largesse of one Gordon Brown and co and the disastrous state of the nations finances since he left office.
Largely, not wholly.
When you actually look at some of the "savings" they are made up of procurement rationalisation. This means sharing, so instead of one council department ordering 1 pencil, and another ordering 1 bic, one council unit orders 1 pencil AND 1 bic.
They are reducing subscriptions, merging FTE posts, cutting overtime and rationalising office space. All to save money.
But if they could do that now why couldnt they do it last year? Or the year before? If we "waste" so much then it shouldnt take a genius to work out it could have been stripped out in previous years, so there is more money to go round now.
Rather curiously, the Audit Commission, of which our very own Sir Cockle was a board member is blamed for some of the incurred costs in previous years. In the document signed by the man himself. Very curious.
If you want to see it Hornets advice is to get there early, otherwise you may not get in.
Here is a full list of the proposed budget cuts. You'll find them at the back.