Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 4, 2018

Cllr O’Toole Questions Police Reserves

In the Downholland KIT Newsletter Spring 2018 Cllr O’Toole writes “I have just read an article in the Champion regarding a rise in council tax by the police which ends with the Chief Constable  being quoted “We are grateful to the public. This increase in council tax will help ease the pressures of the budget cuts”…what it fails to mention is the fact that Lancashire Constabulary has £46.7 million in RESERVES as of March 2017 an increase of over £26 million compared with March 2011. Hard to believe, well the figures are taken from Lancashire Police website. Why is it necessary to put up council tax if you have over 46 million in the bank?”

Perhaps he, as a parish precept payer in Aughton, might ask why it is necessary to charge any precept while the parish council holds so much, £109,239 in the bank plus £309,770 longer term investments and assets.

Is it the amount that is crucial, because when the WLBC kicked pensioners annual £28 travel concessions into touch WLBC had HUGE useable reserves but O’Toole’s buddy Wally Westley made the shameful decision not to budget for the concession to continue.

And despite all of its reserves LCC has approved a 5.99 per cent council tax increase for next year including three per cent ring-fenced for adult social care meaning a basic Band D payer will be charged £1,294 for 2018/19. The financial plan included further cuts totalling £11m, bringing the total savings and cuts made since the Conservative group regained control of County Hall last year to £81m. But the council has also been forced to use £110m from its reserve funds over the next two years, which leader Cllr Driver described as “the county council’s most challenging time in its 130-year history”.

As is widely known, cash-strapped councils are “raiding their rainy day funds” to cope with growing demand on social services, the public spending watchdog has said. Government funding for local authorities has fallen by an estimated 50 per cent since April 2011, heaping added pressure on strained finances and forcing councils in England to cut back on repairing roads, refuse collections and libraries. The National Audit Office (NAO) has made root-and-branch examination of town hall accounts. It found authorities’ financial positions have “worsened markedly”, particularly for those councils which have social services departments, with several authorities struggling to balance their books and diving into their reserve funds – with 66.2 per cent of local authorities with social care responsibilities dipping into their financial reserves in 2016-17.

Perhaps O’Toole’s “expert” insight and observations into Police reserves will enable him to reveal exactly why by 2020/21, there will be only £5.9m left in the LCC transitional reserve fund?

KIT is an independent publication edited by Mike Wainwright. It is funded by Downholland Parish Council.

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