5th February 2015
The amendment I proposed, for £200k in one-off funding to be removed from the Hereford Relief Road budget and used to fund SHYPP (Supported Housing and Young Persons Project) instead, was never intended to be a further row about the merits of the Cabinet’s road building schemes. It simply is the most logical place to take a small amount of funding from to support an extremely valuable service, which has had it’s funding from the Council completely cut with next to no notice.
I’m disappointed I had no opportunity to come back and clarify this in the Council Chambers as rules of debate never gave me the opportunity to reply.
I had to identify where the money would come from for the proposed one-off funding grant and I explained that this should come from the Council’s financial reserves. Reserves the current Conservative administration wish to keep for the Hereford Relief Road.
I appreciate that the council offered their support to the Supported Housing and Young Persons Project and are being proactive with regards to promising to help SHYPP to secure alternative funding but at the end of the day that’s all they are so far; promises and assurances.
My amendment would of given SHYPP enough secured funding to enable them time to plan their future financial strategy for next year, now that all their Council funding has been withdrawn at such short notice.
5th February 2015
Once again we are presented with a budget that gives almost no scope at all for us to propose the big changes that we, It’s Our County, would make to create ‘Our Herefordshire’.
Our two amendments, whilst vital for the services concerned, only account for a tiny fraction of the overall budget. Those amendments do not mean that we necessarily agree with the rest of the budget. And yes, we know that the ever-rising costs of our statutory care services suck in money like a black hole: unless the council can do all it can to enable people not to need those services. What most people value – like our libraries – and what they depend on the most, is the entire range of other services.
Speaking of what people value, it was Einstein – he of E=mc2 (so he knew a bit about equations) – who said: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count. Everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” So let’s remember the values which count for our residents, and not just what this budget can count.
Any budget – whether a household’s or Herefordshire Council’s – is about making choices. This administration continues to make poor choices – in its revenue and capital programmes – and continues to overlook the smart choices which would enable and empower our local communities and our partners to survive and prosper through the continuing financial storm. This is another ‘eyes down’ budget from an ‘eyes down’ administration. Let’s look up and around instead; and let’s do better.
For example, with our ideas and smarter choices the council would already be:
- Supporting the key roles of tourism and culture in economic growth
- Working with city, market town and rural parish councils, maximising their capability to co-operate and share funding to retain and support local services
- Keeping the county farms estate in public ownership
- Prioritising an eastern river crossing in Hereford, as supported by common sense, logic, the City Council – and even the local Conservative MP(!)
- Benefitting from the in-county waste contract solution that was on offer as a viable alternative to the costly and inefficient out-of-county incinerator in East Worcestershire
- Extending the local ‘Funding Circle’ concept to maximise the council’s investments in-county
- Building social housing
- Delivering Hereford’s Urban Village
- Adding to our stake-holding in West Mercia Energy
- Maximising income generation from services
So ‘Our Herefordshire’ would now look very different.
- We would have robust policies to control industrial agriculture, threats from fracking, and the disastrous pollution levels in our rivers.
- We would properly communicate, consult, listen, and act on what we hear
- We would work with all our parishes, and invest in the county – not the stock market – to face present and future challenges.
- We would have a thriving, community-owned, county farms estate, playing a key part in our food and drink industry
- We would have a comprehensive ‘bottom-up’, not ‘top-down’, way of working
In short, and in conclusion, as far as this budget is concerned…“if we were you – the administration – we wouldn’t be starting from here”.
Its our County members and volunteers, who were fed up of complaining about the state of their walkway in Herefordshire, were out on Thursday night cleaning up the rubbish themselves. Ward councillors around Yazor Brook also helped the community effort after receiving complaints of drug needles and broken glass caused by smashed bottles of alcohol. Herefordshire Council say offensive graffiti has been cleaned up and weekly litter picks do happen in the areas owned by them.