Last week we were all shocked to learn what the Government’s cuts to county council funding may cost us.
Libraries, adult education, public transport, and museums are all at risk as Lancashire County Council faces the grim reality of needing to cut a further £65m over the next two years.
This Government likes to talk of devolution and local control of decision making, but what it does not like to do is to fund local services. And talk of local control is meaningless if a government does not provide sufficient funding for councils to deliver the services local people want and need.
We need to be clear that what is a choice for the Government, to cut council funding, leaves our councils with little room to make choices. Our county council has a statutory requirement to deliver services to protect vulnerable adults and children in our community, and although the need for these services continues to grow, there is no growth in funding from Westminster. And note some northern councils are saying that, in the next couple of years, they will not have sufficient funds to even deliver those services they are required to deliver by statute.
Mr Osbourne and Mr Cameron have an obsession with balancing the books by cutting vital local services, and putting the burden of the financial crisis on each of us. Again, this is a choice. The alternative is clear – we could look at what is a reasonable cost to deliver vital services in our community and then look for the Government to raise the revenue to deliver these services. The Tory Government has chosen to cut the services our county council can provide. Our choice is how we respond.
I have written to the Duchy of Lancaster and requested a meeting to discuss practical steps they may be able to take to fund local services, in particular the Judges Lodgings near the Castle in Lancaster.
Finally, events in Paris will have overshadowed all our lives. Looking to the future it’s clear our response to these deadly attacks in Paris must be to find a long term political solution in Syria and across the Middle East.