Boy…. what can you say about Cabinet meetings of the New Forest District Council?

Today, the Tory group were looking at a consultation with another over a “High Level Balancing the Budget Strategy”.

Hampshire County Council has asked New Forest District Council for views on how it should best tackle the challenge of saving £140 million from its budget.

The Cabinet met today and essentially agreed that it has “nothing to say” but wants to be consulted on any specific proposals.

So, why wouldn’t the District Council take the opportunity to tell the County what it thinks?

Cynics might offer the explanation that the County isn’t really interested in hearing from the Districts. It is only consulting because of a legal requirement to do so. The ruling Tory group are going to cut things and increase charges based on their own priorities.

Another view is that relations between the Tories on the District and the Tories on the County Council are so bad (having fallen out over local government re-organisation, which cost taxpayers nearly half a million quid), that having nothing to say is just a snub.

I spoke up at the Cabinet meeting today, telling members that I was saddened that they had not used the opportunity to remind the County Council that a lot of cuts have a disproportionate impact on the neediest and vulnerable people who live here.

Child poverty has not gone away. It is estimated that there will be a million more children living in poverty (the current figure is 4 million) in the next 5 years. They don’t all live in cities. There are pockets of deprivation in rural areas and in parts of towns like Totton.

Every time the County Council cuts money for bus subsidies, we lose services in parts of the New Forest. This impacts mostly on older people who end up with bus passes and no service.

Perhaps the real reason that the District Tories have decided to say nothing is that they made a manifesto promise not to cut any frontline services. The loss of bus services, Children’s Centres, recycling facilities, grants and threats to Household Waste Recycling Centres are all things that the Tories would prefer not to be highlighted.

It is my job to speak up… and today, once again, I did so.

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