Talking Politics: Council budgets

So, again, it’s that time of the year when we’re working hard at preparing plans for next year’s Council budgets. I’ve now been a Councillor here for 10 years, and it seems to get harder every year especially with the changes in central government funding.

This year we’re trying to think about it differently rather than the continuing the “salami-slicing” approach. We’ve had the benefit of some different advice from an Interim Chief Executive of the Council. He’s helped us do some different thinking, building up a more strategic approach, looking at the role of the Council and the major challenges both in terms of demanding, expensive services and where we may be able to do things differently, more efficiently and economically.

I hope that we’re still listening to what local people said to us 2 years ago when we asked them what is important about Council services (“protect frontline service”, “especially those for more vulnerable people”). We’ll be asking people what they think about the approach that we’re taking very shortly through ward forums. Watch this space!

Councillors postbags

I was intrigued to read that MPs get so many letters about animals. It’s understandable that they’re the target of campaigns such as that against the badger cull. As a local Councillor, mine tends to be much more about issues that affect people and where they live, work or shop. The impact of floods in the Upper Valley has taken up a lot of my time.

My current wardwork list includes speeding traffic and parking queries and ideas for improving the local economy, such as developing plans for the market, increasing the “footfall” into the shops in Hebden Bridge, and what are we going to do about a Neighbourhood Plan ?