Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Keeping in touch with County finances

When the Conservatives won the Lancashire County Council elections in June, I have to admit that I was sceptical about their claims to freeze council tax. My reservations were based on the need to increase taxation in line with inflation just to stand still. If you want to freeze tax you have to make cuts at least by the rate of inflation and there were no details about where the cuts were coming from.

Well now we hear that some vacant posts are not being filled. That is a start to balancing the books but I am not sure if this means that these vacancies are for people who did nothing or whether a phone is ringing somewhere in County Hall and nobody is answering it. However there are two really clever moves. Firstly the Conservatives have identified areas where spending will increase and this makes up most of the press release. Theoretically if two areas of spending are increasing and the books are balancing with a frozen council tax then this means that many other areas are being cut. The second clever move is to borrow an extra £40 million. What is the odd £40 million if it means you can honour an election pledge?

I have gone back to my County Council election leaflet from the Conservatives and you may have guessed it - there is no mention of increased borrowing. Incidentally, my leaflet is called "In Touch" and it tells me that my Labour County Councillor has become a Conservative candidate. So much for keeping in touch.

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