Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Councillors Scrutinise Budget Proposals

THE CORPORATE Overview and Scrutiny Committee met last night to examine in detail the £4 million worth of cuts proposed by the Labour administration.

In unique circumstances, all Portfolio Holders, Heads of Service and Corporate Directors attended the key meeting to answer any of the concerns members of the committee had.

The meeting was deftly chaired by councillor Danny Nicklen who let the detailed and complicated meeting flow so that all parties were able to have their say.

Council Leader John Kent began the meeting by stressing that “It was not a new budget but an adaption in light of the the £4 million in savings imposed by the Coalition Government.

“We must also recognise and deal with the £4 million overspend that the previous Tory administration incurred last year.”

Orsett councillor Mike Revell asked for each Corporate Director in turn to give an “insight into their thinking”.

Cllr Kent agreed that all the information would be disseminated between Corporate Directors, Heads of Service and Portfolio Holders.

Representatives from Corporate Governance explained that much of the £150,000 worth of savings had already been achieved. For example, the abolition of the CAA meant that £20,000 would not have to be paid to the Audit Commission.

Cllr Revell suggested that the term “Proposed Saving” was misleading and may need to be re-phrased.

Community Well-Being

“Next year, we may have to re-define what Adult Social Care is all about. This year’s will pale into insignificance especially when we may have to take people out of long term care.

This were the chilling words of Head of Service Roger Harris.

“We may be in a situation when we are taking people out of long term care.”

He opined that many of the short term cuts such as assistive technology may have long term consequences

Cllr Phil Anderson noted the £117,000 worth of savings to be made in the removal of the web-portal, facebook sites, faith forum, reduced Thurrock Heritage Month and hoped the staff that would have been used, would be redeployed on other projects that were going ahead.

Cllr Anderson said: “I would not want to see politically correct projects take precedence at the risk of front line services.

“Have we looked hard enough at the Corporate Diversity Team?”

Cllr Bukky Ojunade looked somewhat taken aback and warned that “there may be statutory obligations that we may need to fulfill”.

The discussion regarding other services will be published tomorrow.


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