"The Trades Unions bring massive expertise, working with them, we have already cut 400 jobs and reduced management by 25%."But as he pointed out, a further 600 jobs will still need to go.
In their budget report which includes some details, the council says that it is seeking to rationalise the way services are delivered rather than carry out massive cuts. This will be achieved the report says, by streamlining services and by forming partnerships with neighbouring authorities to deliver services such as refuse collection and parks maintenance. But it is clear from the report that some front-line services will be cut or closed. The number of luncheon clubs are to be cut and amalgamated. As regards libraries, the report says:
"It is likely that library functions can be delivered with fewer buildings."The report says that the Arts & Events programme will be reviewed and there will be a reduction in the current arts and events programme, including, ceasing capital spend. Also, more than £1.5 million will be cut from the budgets of District Assemblies who are responsible for such things as street cleansing. The report also says that capital expenditure will be cut by 58% and that volunteers, will be used to run countryside visitor centres and to provide other council services.
Unlike councillor Jim McMahon, the leader of the Labour Group on Oldham council, who recently proposed a 10% reduction in councillors allowances, councillor Quinn, did not take the opportunity to propose a cut in the allowances for Tameside councillors. But he did tell us: "We`re reducing management costs and Steve (Steven Pleasant the C.E.O. of Tameside Council) has had a reduction of 16% in his salary." The unfortunate Mr. Pleasant, is now struggling to make ends meet on only £166,929 per year, which is £24,000 more than the Prime Minister receives. But it wasn`t all bad news on the night: councillor Quinn`s wife (Susan), was elected as the next Mayor and this will add, another £25,000 to the family coffers.
When it came to the turn of the Tameside Tories, to respond to the leaders' budget speech, we listened in bewilderment, as John Bell, the leader of the Tory Group, rambled on discursively about Greater Manchester fire service, as a labour councillor shouted out: "Is this a fire service budget speech." Although the Tory leader nodded in approval at the council tax freeze and the budget, he did argue that these measures ought to have been introduced two years ago. Regarding council spending, he said that there had been money wasted and extravagance such as £36,000 for software data for a 'virtual Town Hall', which very few people had visited and the £30,000 which had been spent on staff 'lifestyle' schemes including, £4,995 paid to a private firm to teach council employees and councillors how to walk safely. What he didn`t mention was the £20k he receives for being the Vice-Chairman of the Greater Manchester Fire Authority or the £27 grand he received last year, for being the Conservative leader. While referring to an article in the Daily Mail, the Labour opposition started to laugh, as councillor (Wag) Taylor, the deputy leader, shouted out: "I thought you read the Sun newspaper."
Sitting in Ashton Town Hall last Tuesday, watching this bunch, was like sighting a shoal of grey mullets - the shit fish - on the high seas' of economic catastrophe from which we must eventually emerge.