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Labour’s leader on South Gloucestershire Council says that the authority will soon face a financial black hole at the same time as growing demands are made on its vital services.

Speaking at the Council’s annual budget setting meeting this evening, Councillor Pat Rooney highlighted the council’s official Financial Plan which shows that South Gloucestershire can only balance its budget next year by using up its £6.9 million of reserves, and that in 2019 the authority faces a £9.2 million black hole. This dire picture comes after £22 million of planned cuts have already been implemented.

Pat_Rooney_standard_portrait.jpgCouncillor Rooney says:

“South Gloucestershire Council has got to the point where it is forced to scramble around to find funds for essential spending. The council will have to use its reserves to balance the budget next year and then faces a £9.2M black hole in 2019 that is forecast to grow every successive year.

This comes at a time when services are coming under unprecedented pressure. Our social care budgets are being stretched beyond capacity and we are having to find an additional £910,000 a year just to meet the current level of demand on our children’s social services. 

Our residents face year-on-year tax increases for steadily decreasing services and will pay a social care precept that is no more than a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. The government continues to pass the buck onto councils and our residents.

I am asking the Council’s Conservative Leader to go back to his friends in government and tell them that we can no longer bear this level of cuts.”

Councillor Rooney also criticises local Conservative councillors, saying:

“Our Conservatives promised the abolition of the green bin charge as the centrepiece of their election campaign. We always said this was the wrong spending priority and now they have been forced to drop it quietly because of their government’s tight-fistedness. It is clear that they could not possibly afford to deliver on this promise.”

Council faces financial black hole

Labour’s leader on South Gloucestershire Council says that the authority will soon face a financial black hole at the same time as growing demands are made on its vital services....

Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire say that Ofsted’s judgement that the council’s Children’s Services are “inadequate” could have been avoided had opportunities to address failings not been missed because of a “don’t tell, don’t ask” culture.

Labour councillor Gareth Manson says that back in 2014 he and his Labour colleagues had proposed that the Council subject itself to a ‘mock’ Ofsted inspection, but were dissuaded from pursuing this on the grounds that the full inspection was due imminently.
 
Nine months later, when no such Ofsted inspection had materialised, Councillor Manson and his Labour colleagues once again proposed a ‘mock’ Ofsted inspection. This proposal was blocked on the alleged grounds that the cost and the time demands on staff would be too high, a claim that Labour strongly disputed. The true cost of not taking these opportunities is now clear in the conclusions of the report just published.
 
Gareth_.jpgCouncillor Manson says:
 
“Had either of these mock inspections taken place the deficiencies in vital services that Ofsted have now uncovered would have been exposed and dealt with sooner. This would have resulted in children receiving a service which met their needs and the Council would have been better placed to protect them. It would have also avoided the stress and strain which Ofsted’s monitoring regime will now put on staff and the damage done to the reputation of South Gloucestershire Council.
 
The amount of information and detail being shared with elected members has clearly been inadequate and my experience is that many councillors have been reluctant to challenge and scrutinise what they are told. The relationship between councillors and managers has become too cosy, leading to a ‘don’t tell, don’t ask’ culture.
 
I am concerned that the immediate response from senior levels in the Council to this damning report seems to be that South Gloucestershire is somehow less inadequate than other inadequate authorities. This defensive attitude and culture really needs to change if there is to be any meaningful and sustainable turn around in the Council’s performance.”

Poor report demands that culture must change

Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire say that Ofsted’s judgement that the council’s Children’s Services are “inadequate” could have been avoided had opportunities to address failings not been missed because of...

Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire today voted for a return to all night lighting, enhancing a move they made three years ago. Back in 2014, Labour used its leverage on the then hung council to get funds allocated for an additional hour of lighting at night. The council had previously decided to switch off many of its street lights overnight in a bid to save money, but this had not proved universally popular with residents.

Councillors have recently been advised that advances in technology mean that it is now cheaper to keep the street lights on but dimmed, and today the council’s Environment and Communities Committee voted to adopt a revised street lighting policy and move to a dimmed all night lighting regime.

Ian_Library.jpgLabour’s Lead Member on the committee, Councillor Ian Boulton, says:

“I am pleased to support this move, which takes Labour’s proposal of three years ago further forward. Turning the street lights off has proved controversial, and I suspect that many residents will welcome this change of policy.

It will cause a very small increase in CO2 emissions, which I regret, but we will be monitoring further advances in technology which will hopefully address this over time.”

Labour welcomes street light switch

Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire today voted for a return to all night lighting, enhancing a move they made three years ago. Back in 2014, Labour used its leverage on...

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