They do say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
That doesn’t stop Conservative councillors criticising Corby Council’s budget.
A budget driven by the need to make savings forced on us by the very coalition Government these councillors support.
However, overcoming a reluctance to spoil a good story with some facts we would like to correct some inaccuracies that one can only assume are made to deliberately mislead the residents of Corby.
The council’s books are balanced for 2012-13. We have had to find £1.5m of savings to do this and it has been achieved without cuts to frontline services and no rise in council tax. £71m is being borrowed to purchase the council’s housing stock from the Conservative-led Government. We have no choice but to do this. Along with councils up and down the country it has been forced on us by Government. Interest payments of £2m per year on this £71m are, however, less than the contribution we would otherwise have made to Government. So a small saving there.
There are no cuts to frontline services and to say otherwise is misleading. PCSOs and the Happenin’ Project are continuing to be supported next year, as they are this. Many Conservative councils within Northamptonshire, including the county, are cutting PCSO funding. Compare Corby Council’s actions with the Tory led County and Government. Real cuts to benefits, health care, education, libraries, disability services, lollipop crossing staff and, of course, street lights. Whilst this bonfire of cuts goes on bankers continue to pay themselves massive bonuses.
To claim that Corby Council is making 12 compulsory redundancies is simply untrue. Like many other councils we have been forced into reducing staff numbers – two in our case.
However, because of strong political leadership, planning and previous investment in our facilities and community most of our savings are being made by increased income.
This council is borrowing because it has invested in Corby. The borrowing is affordable and contained within budget. It is this investment that has helped turn Corby around and has allowed it to become a place to be proud of.
It is disappointing that the Conservative group are trying to mislead the residents of Corby for political gain.
It is our belief that the balancing of the budget, while protecting frontline services, is a major achievement and testament to the dedication and hard work of our council staff.
Local Government is going through a period of tremendous change, again driven by the policies of central Government. In order to help councillors understand this change and its implications we regularly hold seminars and briefing sessions. Conservative councillors rarely, if ever, turn up for them. Maybe that explains their ignorance over their own Government’s housing stock buyout policy. Or maybe they are being just plain disingenuous!
If anyone is letting the people of Corby down it is them.
Leader, Corby Council