Wednesday, 1 October 2014

New Borough Plan will decide our services to be cut over the next 4 years

Christine Gilbert, Interim Chief Executive of Brent Council, has been kept on to work on the new Borough Plan, according to Muhammed Butt, Labour leader of Brent Council,

Although the Borough Plan sounds innocuous and not a little boring, it would be wise to look a little more closely. It is really the Council's attempt at embedding future cuts into a long-term plan. Cuts that many see as meaning the end of local government as we know it.

The Borough Plan will earmark services to be cut as well as to be preserved. As such is is more important that the annual budget making as the budget making will be informed by its priorities.

It basically signals that the Council will acquiece in the cuts rather than challenging them and leading the community in campaigning against them.

We are being asked to tell the Council which of our limbs we want to cut off first.

The Council makes no secret of this but local residents may have missed the introduction on its website.

Here it is:

The Brent Borough Plan 2015/19 Consultation

Brent residents are being asked for their views on how local public services should evolve and what they can do to improve the borough given the continuing squeeze on budgets.

The borough plan consultation opens today (September 16) and invites residents to help shape the future of the borough in the context of significantly reduced budgets for local public services.

Over the next four years services in Brent face the most challenging financial cuts ever. The council’s budget alone is expected to be halved by 2018.

Brent also has increasing demands on public services with a growing population, more babies being born, more people moving into the borough and more people living longer. To meet these challenges some services will need to be delivered in different ways and some stopped altogether. Residents are being asked what their priorities are through a series of surveys and public meetings throughout September and October.

Residents are being asked how they could play a vital role in their local community as well as how services should be designed in the future. In some cases, prioritising one area will mean that something else has to be cut back, or stopped altogether.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt, says: “Brent has been through tough financial times – which are sadly not yet over.

“Local public services face the same challenges, those of reducing income and increasing costs, which many of our residents are facing.

“For example, by 2018 Brent Council's funding from central government will have been cut in half. To put this in context, we would need to more than double council tax next year to start plugging the gap in the council’s budget and this would still not address the shortfalls in other local service budgets such as the Police and Fire Brigade.

“This harsh reality means we will inevitably face tough choices in the coming months and years and this is why the borough plan consultation is so important in informing the future of Brent.

“All of the organisations involved in the consultation want to work with local people to make sure that our plans are the right way forward given the limits we are all working with.

“This is your Brent, your community and your services so please get involved as we are listening.”
You can get involved by responding to the call for evidence before 28 November 2014.