Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 17, 2018

We Found Money

So said LCC Cllr O’Toole in Halsall last week. “We [LCC Conservatives] inherited a mess…within days of taking control we set about remedying the situation…we found money”. And have you found fairies in your garden?

LCC  senior officer Neil Kissock, Director of Financial Resources, wrote officially “The Council has faced an unprecedented period of financial challenge since the Government’s austerity measures began in 2010, with year on year reductions in the funding provided by Central Government to the Council. This has primarily been through revenue support grant which has dropped from £302.103 million in 2010/11 to £118.841 million in 2016/17. In addition, the Council continues to face significant financial pressures from rising costs of the national living wage and contractual inflation and also in relation to increasing demand for its services. This is particularly the case for both adult and children’s social care services and waste services.

“On 11 February 2016, the Council approved a net revenue budget of £713.020 million, which included savings of £20.252 million identified in February 2015 and a further £64.686 million of savings approved in November 2015. The revenue budget represents the cost of meeting the annual expenses of carrying out the Council’s duties and responsibilities to the community, many of which are of a statutory nature.

“The under-spend was largely due to the delivery of the vast majority of the agreed in-year savings programme, support from reserves and additional income of c£23 million arising from treasury management activities. This additional income reflected opportunities arising following the decision for the UK to leave the European Union. However, without the use of reserves and treasury management activity the Council would have overspent significantly above the approved budget reflecting a number of service pressures, particularly in children’s and adult social care”.

LCC Cllr O’Toole told Halsall Parish Council “Four years ago we had left almost £150 million in reserves. However by May 2017 this had fallen to under £50 million, well below the recommended level for a council the size of Lancashire”.

“And then we found money”! So why are we, the elderly and disabled, users of Dial-a-Ride, group transport, community car schemes, day trips and volunteering opportunities” on the cusp of yet another reduction of funding by a third for community transport in Lancashire? “This may mean loss, reduction and/or changes to these services including fare increases”. Now take a look at the LCC Special Responsibility Gravy Train, cost to council tax payers £355,000

O’Toole “Continues to represent you as the Conservative lead member on both Lancashire Fire and Rescue Authority…basic allowance 2016/17 £2,703.35, Special Responsibility £5,134.56, Travel & Subsistence £516.60, Total £8,354.52”.

As LCC elected member O’Toole “I have been given the position of chairman of the very important Internal Scrutiny Committee and Chief Whip” takes £10,466 basic + £4,483 Chief Whip. The Chair of Internal Overview and Scrutiny carries the Special Responsibility Allowance of £7,471.

On Special Responsibility Allowances, LCC states “This Allowance is paid monthly to those councillors holding the special responsibilities shown in Schedule ‘B’ of the Scheme. There is no statutory limit on the number of special responsibility allowances which may be paid to a councillor. However, the Council’s Independent Remuneration Panel has advised that councillors should be paid only one such allowance, unless the additional Special Responsibility Allowance arises out of a Group block allocation in recognition of Group duties and this is County Council practice. Where a councillor would otherwise be entitled to two or more special responsibility allowances e.g. Chair of two committees, the higher allowance will be paid.

O’Toole wants your vote to re-elect him to WLBC Aughton & Downholland, basic allowance £4,842. Fire, LCC, WLBC, he has membership of all three we all pay for. Give me an independent candidate any day of the week!

Cnty Cllr Paul Greenall  resigned the Tory whip in July last year after claiming colleagues tried to stop him from raising the issue of reducing allowances. He said “County Hall is a gravy train for greedy fat cat councillors who want taxpayers to give them more than their generous £10,466 basic allowance. Given that most taxpayers cannot claim for travel and meals when they go to work, why should they fund these benefits for councillors? Also why should taxpayers’ money be used for political roles shouldn’t these positions be funded by the political parties?”.

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