Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Budget consultation

It's that time to get conned again!

The Borough Council of South Tyneside has announced it's intention to have a formal consultation over it's budget for 2006-7 with a wonderfully "spun" press release which once again features our great and gloriously smilingpicture of Paul Waggott Leader Paul Waggott (pictured) acclaiming profusely the successes of the past year!

Sticking precisely to Blair's message of 1997 "Education, education, education", it seems we have at last succeeded in blazing a trail, Waggott's main message applauds the achievements of our youngsters and our educational services. However, there is little mention of his officers struggle to contain the expenditure within the agreed budgets for this year (nor for that matter, next year). The Borough is still fighting to put right last year's massive overspend, good savings made in the first half of this financial year do not appear to have been matched during the second half, consequently the windfall received from share dividends in Newcastle Airport will only be used to replenish the reserves fund. This is a great shame, because first half financial probity looked reassuring and promised much to repair the damage of the previous year, however, we will now be in a position of pressure to raise revenue to "stand still" once again, despite saving millions of pounds in the first half without affecting services.

Our award winning Council allows us to search for the consultation document here, but once you have found the details, there are no options to view it or complete it, or return it! Very odd way of running an e-service!

So be prepared, there will be no options for the public to propose a "freeze" in Council Tax rates, we will again be offered options of three sizes of Council Tax rises and this exercise will be hailed as a "great success".

How long does Cllr. Waggott expect us to go on buying this nonsense?
How often does he expect us to keep ticking the boxes?
Does Cllr. Waggott expect us to carry on being conned by this consultation?

As a "listening council" I wish they would listen to this:

Try producing a budget that reduces overall spending without affecting services! - (you almost achieved it for the first six months of this year)


South Tyneside Council

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