Thursday, 10 July 2014

Rochdale Council under New Cabinet Regime

Hi All,
A report setting out the timetable, procedure and principles for setting of a 2 year Council budget for 2015/16 and 2016/17 will be considered at the meeting of the Cabinet on 14thJuly – the report does not specify any figures in respect of the amount of ‘savings’ which will be needed and it says are still under consideration but it does say that the % reduction in Revenue Support Grant from Govt is 18.5% in 2015/16, so that is obviously significant and figures of £50 million+ have been banded about in media by Councillors. The £500k L4L saving which I referred to in my previous email came from a source within the L4L (Link 4 Life) Company Management Team and there is no doubt that preliminary informal discussions have already taken place between the Trust and the Council. You can see the full report on the RMBC website under Council/meetings/agendas/cabinet. However the timetable is as follows:-
3.3.2  'The Council’s budget must be approved by full Council before 11th March each year. This is a statutory requirement. The process begins in June with approval being sought for the assumptions and principles on which the budget is based. Proposals for savings and budget pressures are presented compared to estimates of the level of resources resulting in an identification of any budget gap. Throughout the year we consult on the budget and update projections where necessary for the Government Funding settlement and other known changes, including local decisions. The updated budget and feedback from consultations are reported back to Cabinet in January with recommendations for Budget Fixing Council. who will in turn set the budget.
Services are notified of their resource allocations following Budget Fixing Council in February/March. The full budget timetable is detailed at Appendix 1.'
The highlighted extract above is the period when details of proposed ‘savings’ will be published for consultation. I assume this will follow the same process as previous rounds, i.e. details posted on the council website for public comment. As you will recall, it was made fiendishly difficult to pin down exactly what was being proposed by Link4Life and how this would impact on services last time around and it was obvious that ‘deals had been done’ with council before the proposals were published and as Carl says, we ended up unsuccessfully trying to ‘firefight’ the unfair impact of cuts to Arts, Heritage and Cultural services which were a ‘fait accompli’.
I suggest that once the above report has been approved by Cabinet, we write to the Council Leader and the L4L Chair and Chief Executive setting out our concerns and request for Link4Life to hold open public consultations with service users on the savings it needs to find and how it proposes to go about this, to ensure transparency and fairness. We need to get some ground rules set for Link4Life before they stitch up a deal with the Council which means we end up in the same position as last time. We need to convince the new L4L regime that we want to work constructively with them to minimise the impact of Council cuts on the Trust’s services but that this can only happen if they are open and honest with us.....
Any comments welcome.
Name redacted is a
Member of Touchstone Challenge


'P' said...

Dear NV,
No objections to that. Although I’m not sure if you’re aware that on a previous occasion when we had the temerity to question Link4Life’s actions, members of TC received a ‘threatening’ letter from Link4Life’s solicitors essentially trying to gag us under threat of bringing a libel suit. Obviously we called their bluff and told them to bring it on and we never heard anything afterwards! Everything in my email was either factual or, in my view, ‘fair comment’ in light of what has gone on before which is well documented, so I’ve got no problem with publication.


Carl said...

I think you're spot on there 'P' and it's got my support.