Lancashire County Council has announced more details of the cuts to local services and the planned disposal of council owned buildings which is going to have a dramatic effect on our local communities.
These cuts are extremely difficult to swallow and many local councillors (myself included) have raised concerns with our county councillors about them.
It comes as no surprise, however, that these savage cuts are a direct result of funding cuts from central Government and the sad fact is that many northern councils are disproportionately worse off than their southern counterparts.
Lancashire County Council has had 62 per cent of its budget cut so far, and is facing further cuts before 2020. This equates to somewhere around £650m and there’s still another £148m they need to find.
It’s really no wonder we are losing services.
I have to say though, that the losses could be much worse.
There are many local people, businesses and community groups, who have come forward and registered an interest to take over a service or building.
Some of these expressions of interest have turned into solid business cases, which will hopefully see children’s centres being retained in the locations where they are needed and our libraries remaining open, thanks to these community-minded groups and individuals.
These people and the local councillors who have lobbied on their behalf, deserve our thanks. It’s easy to write letters complaining about things but change only happens when people stand up and are prepared to actually do something.
I have to say I was disappointed by our MP, David Morris’ response to this consultation. While thousands of people across the district were engaging with the county council via. the public consultation, to protest, submit expressions of interest and business plans, Mr Morris was claiming there was no reason to cut services; the council could just use some of their reserves.
The fact is that any cash reserves will be swallowed up in making the cuts and Mr Morris also fails to point out that reserves include the very buildings, computers and office furniture which the council owns; it’s not cash in the bank.
A building might be worth £500,000 on paper but you cannot liquidate it to keep a museum open, not in my world anyway.
I am disappointed that Mr Morris didn’t stand up for his constituency when his Government were making the decisions on which councils to hit hardest with the cuts.
In politics it’s not easy arguing against your own party (actually it is, but you don’t win any friends) but it still needs to be done and I feel bitterly disappointed at Mr Morris’ lack of fight for us and his attitude of complete denial.
One casualty of all of this is David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council and councillor of 30 years. It would seem that having to preside over this Government directive is just a cut too far, and he will be stepping down.