I promised to return to this topic as there were some important issues on the agenda. In this posting I want to look at just a couple. Firstly the representations we have received from young people about the youth service and secondly the continuing alliance between the 'official' Conservatives and the Labour Party over £7m extra borrowing for projects which when compared with some of the budget cuts we are making do not appear to be priorities-well that is the polite way of expressing it.
Firstly let us look at the Youth Service. The representations on this matter split neatly in to two types. By far the most numerous have been young people themselves. In common with Tony Robertson I have found that these have been overwhelmingly constructive and they fully appreciative of the financial bind we are in. It is not going to be easy but it does encourage you to carry on trying to improve the outcome for those young people. I know our budget team is still working on this issue and if something can be achieved we will all be pleased to go along with it.. I would say that the young man who spoke on Thursday at the Cabinet, Jacob, put his case extremely well and certainly left us with food for thought.
The second group of objectors are folk we've not seen for a while whilst Labour has been in power. They are not so impressive. They urge to spend more money and are first in line to complain if we try to raise any new revenue by charging! Effectively they want us to set an illegal budget. This is the politics of Derek Hatton and Millitant. If we don't set a legal budget one will be set for us and not necessarily with all the effort and inventiveness that is going on at present. Abdicating responsibility will not produce extra resources. It is instructive that Labour controlled authorities are facing up to that reality and making as good a job as possible of the situation. I have seen little convincing evidence that Pickle and his mates assertion that Northern authorities are making the situation worse for political motives. If it is expected that we should make structural reforms then few of us would disagree -but it is not going to happen in time to produce a balanced budget by March. Those of us on the ground who are working hard know that and we heartily wish that Ministers would shut up.
Undoubtedly one area we in Sefton could save some money is on the capital programme. I know that many of our residents are open mouth in astonishment at the fact we are embarking on two projects cost £7m at a time when we are struggling to find enough money to cover far more important matters. In this context I am heartened that the rebel Tories-The majority of those elected as Conservative in Southport- have come out in favour of our belief that there should be a rethink. I shall return to this............