All We Want For 2020?

Are Brexit and a 1/3rd slicing of the number of elected members of WLBC what we want for 2020?

From the WLBC Extraordinary Council Meeting Of Wednesday, 10th July, 2019 7.30 pm. “That it be noted that a formal request to instigate an electoral review will now be made to the Boundary Commission”. It’s not restricting employee recruitment yet, as WLBC is advertising for a Business Support Manager, salary circa £39,782 to £41,675.

All over the country cuts in the number of elected council members are being reported, many to just one elected member for each ward. Just imagine what that will do to the Aughton 5?

We’ve been here before, as reported that Cllr D Westley agreed, in writing, some years ago we should have a smaller council but changed his mind the same day! Now, if cuts do take place some Halsall resident/Aughton councillors will be made redundant! Yes please!

The Local Government Boundary Commissioners, who make all these decisions, conduct reviews of English local authorities to improve levels of electoral equality, ensuring all councillors represent approximately the same number of electors. But theirs is an odd equality, applying only WITHIN individual authorities, with no comparative reference whatever, even to neighbouring councils.

Back in July it was reported that “One in five councils face drastic spending cuts within months. Cuts to local government funding mean many will be forced to act to stave off bankruptcy. The deteriorating financial prospects for local government mean that within months nearly one in five councils in England may be forced to impose drastic spending controls to stave off bankruptcy, council leaders have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils had little confidence that they would be able to deliver the already tough savings targets they had set themselves for this financial year, and would have to go back for extra cuts to meet their legal requirement to balance their budgets.

A further one in three councils surveyed said prospects were so bleak that within three years they would be unable to meet their statutory obligation to provide an adequate service in core areas such as adult social care, child protection and homelessness prevention.

Last year Tory-run Northamptonshire county council in effect declared bankruptcy and imposed a ban on non-essential spending. Its failure to make planned savings after years of cutbacks and chaotic management left it unable to fulfil its legal requirement to meet its spending obligations and balance its budget.

It reportedly stabilised its finances early this year after selling its headquarters and spending £60m of the proceeds to balance the books. However, it has since reported a £6m overspend on its adult social care budget, just three months into the new financial year.

Councils have already had proposed cuts to statutory services such as libraries and Sure Start centres challenged and sometimes overturned in the courts on the grounds that the cuts breach the legal obligation to provide an adequate level of service. More judicial review challenges are expected.

The LGA estimates that between 2010 and 2016, local authorities will have lost 60p out of every £1 they received from central government. By next April the gap between council resources and demand will be £3bn, rising to £8bn by 2025, fuelled by wage inflation and the rising costs of adult and child social care. The LGA survey was completed by 141 out of 339 LGA member councils between 28 March and 5 June.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said “Councils are a vital link to meet the needs of residents. That’s why we’re providing local authorities with access to £46.4bn this year – a real-terms increase – including extra funding to support some of our most vulnerable groups”.

For 2020-21, the relevant basic amount of council tax of an authority like WLBC is excessive if the authority’s relevant basic amount of council tax for 2020-21 is (a) 2%, or more than 2%, greater than its relevant basic amount of council tax for 2019-20; and (b) more than £5 greater than its relevant basic amount of council tax for 2019-20. Otherwise we could call for a referendum! Police and Crime Commissioners are similarly restricted! No more of this, below, then? We hope!

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