Conservative Councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have begun to set out their vision for how the Council can continue to improve the services it delivers to local residents within increasingly tight budgets.
With public services facing a major spending squeeze in coming years due to the Government’s huge national debt, local councils are having to make tough choices on spending priorities. Government grants are expected to be significantly reduced from 2011 onwards, when a new local government finance settlement must be agreed.
The Conservative Cabinet on B&NES Council has therefore said that the Council must prepare detailed plans over the coming year to ensure it is able to deliver the best possible services for less money.
Under the plans, the spending of each Council department will be comprehensively reviewed in the coming year, with radical plans to reform, modernise, streamline, and improve services developed.
The Conservative vision for improving Council services in tough times focuses on three aspects:
– Streamlining and improving front-line services; increasing the proportion of Council workers in front-line roles.
– Supporting, encouraging and empowering community organisations and Parishes; enabling them to play a greater role in the delivery of vital community services.
– Targeting resources; to ensure that the most vulnerable residents and those least able to help themselves receive the best possible support, prioritising across all services and being prepared to take tough choices on what the Council is able to deliver.
B&NES Conservative Leader, Cllr Francine Haeberling, said:
“We are fortunate in B&NES that we are approaching these financial challenges from a strong position. We have ensured the Council maintains balanced budgets with no deficit, successfully settled the Bath Spa claims, and avoided putting any money into collapsed Icelandic banks.
“However, the Council must now start working on ambitious plans to ensure it can deliver the best possible services within tighter budgets. Conservatives believe that this can be achieved by improving efficiency, working with and supporting community organisations, and carefully targeting our resources.
“We have set out the direction we believe the Council must follow in order to deliver the best for less, with a lot more work on detailed plans to be undertaken over the coming year as future Government grants to local authorities are decided. But it is clear that these challenges can be used as a real opportunity to focus on residents’ priorities and deliver the services local people want from their Council.”