After hearing and reading George Osborne’s spending review proposals, I fear that local democracy is under a real threat.
People vote in local elections, to elect local people, to provide the services they feel best suits the needs of their borough.
The Government and in particular David Cameron, George Osborne and Eric Pickles, seem to have little regard for localism, and the needs of people in different areas.
The needs of Londoners are nowhere near the same as those in Calderdale.
We have in Calderdale tried and I think succeeded in delivering the savings that the government have asked us to achieve, since 2010, even though the problems were not created by local Government or local people.
In Calderdale we have tried to put political differences to one side, to ensure that we can maintain all front line services that people need and in some cases take for granted.
As they say: “That’s what we pay our council tax for” and I think that most councillors from all political groups have shown a mature attitude to the problems we face.
This is demonstrated at scrutiny level rather than at full council, when the party political games become apparent.
In the Chancellor’s spending review speech, he has again frozen council tax and told councillors to reduce spending by another 10 per cent. This, in Calderdale, means that despite cutting over £70 million in costs some of which may have needed cutting, but a lot that will affect Calderdale residents in the future, the staff that work for the council are under immense pressure to preform, economise, and to produce performance targets that are realistically not achievable.
Council staff and councillors have given all they can to achieve what has been asked of them in extreme circumstances, so to ask for another 10% real cut in finances will hit frontline services in a way that people will not have seen before.
I know that all Calderdale councillors will put the people and services that Calderdale provides before politics.