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Labour’s Response to Further Savings Proposals

Councillor Mary Temperton writes:

I am replying to this consultation on the assumption that:

> The proposals are at a formative stage

> The product of the consultation must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising the proposals as advised by the Borough Solicitor. i.e. The decisions have not already been made.

The sparsity of detail included in the online consultation makes me question whether any resident can have any idea of the outcome of each cut proposed. And negates the Solicitor’s advice: – “sufficient for the proposal must be given to allow intelligent consideration and response”.

The sparsity of detail included in the online consultation makes me question whether any resident can have any idea of the outcome of each cut proposed.

I totally understand why more proposals for cuts are necessary following the Local Government Financial settlement on Dec 17 2015 but I do not agree with all the cuts proposed.

I am concerned at the removal of another £500K from the Adult Care Commissioning especially as an extra 2% tax was raised to pay for this.  I am told the ‘New Care Act’ changes the ‘eligibility’ for care and I am concerned that people who needed care in the past are now deemed not to be ‘eligible’ under the new criteria.

At a recent conference organised by Bracknell Forest Council on improving Life Chances, I learnt of the importance of Early Intervention in supporting the mental growth and wellbeing of our children. The conference filled me with hope that we can reduce the increasing number of identified behaviour problems and emotional ill-health issues, if we can expose our youngest children to the right level of positive intervention. This means training Child Minders, Pre-School groups and all involved in Children’s Centres. Reducing these very resources is a short term gain but will have a long term cost implication.

Reducing these very resources [Early Intervention services] is a short term gain but will have a long term cost implication.

The 50% Cut to the ‘Homestart’ grant is totally unacceptable. ‘Homestart’ answers all the Conservative ‘Localisation’ requirements. It is a charity that uses volunteers to intervene with young families in trouble, but not in crisis, to enable them to gain confidence and resilience. The Council Plan states “We will focus our resources on prevention and early help. Promote self-reliance and empower people to take responsibility for their communities”. This is exactly what ‘Homestart’ does. Volunteers are trained; they support families until the support can be withdrawn; many volunteers have moved on to being employed; many supported parents have moved on to becoming volunteers. A cut of 50% is likely to mean the Charity will cease as the budget is small and tight. At the moment they support between 70 and 100 families, depending on the number of volunteers they can train… Expenditure has increased this year due to the new accommodation at the Open Learning Centre, following their forced move from Coopers Hill.

I refer many of my residents with debt problems, benefit claimant issues etc. to the CAB. They are always given the best possible professional advice and support. Reducing their grant by 10% must have a negative impact on those of our residents most needing our support. Yet the Council Plan 2015-2019 clearly states “We will continue to prioritise early help and prevention so that struggling or vulnerable people can maximise their opportunities to develop independence”. Cutting CAB grant by 10% does not “prioritise” our most vulnerable.

the Council Plan 2015-2019 clearly states “We will continue to prioritise early help and prevention so that struggling or vulnerable people can maximise their opportunities to develop independence”. Cutting CAB grant by 10% does not “prioritise” our most vulnerable.

The consultation does not list the Voluntary sector Organisations that receive grants and this information is not easy to find on the Web site, so it is difficult for residents to reply to this ‘general’ question. I assume the £44K cut to South Hill Park is the 10% cut to all grant receivers. This will have a big effect on the budget of South Hill Park – just when outcomes were so positive, following the reduction in the Arts Council Grant and having responded to all the requests subsequently made by the Council.  South Hill Park makes Bracknell a very special place to live, as highlighted in the latest Residents Survey. It is our ‘jewel in the crown’.

The cut in the Community and Safety budget, reducing support for Domestic Violence victims is very concerning. All evidence given at recent meetings has shown the intervention has had positive outcomes. No evidence has been given to indicate why these particular areas have been cut. If the interventions were not working, no one has admitted that. Which areas are being affected and the outcomes expected are not given in the consultation.

No evidence has been given to indicate why these particular areas [Community and Safety budget] have been cut.

I accept the Parish Council cut as each Parish Council raises its own rate and can cover this.

I accept that the Harmans Water Building cannot be converted into the Community Centre and Library, as promised by the Conservatives during the elections, but would urge that this building is used for other purposes and not just left standing idle.

The lack of movement on the Coopers’ Hill project is lamentable, as the young people of Bracknell were promised a State of the Art Youth provision here five years ago. I understand that the new economic situation now means this must be ‘mothballed’ but it is regrettable that many voluntary groups have been forced to move out and find alternative, often more expensive accommodation, – but this is not mentioned in the consultation.

Obviously, if Dennis Pilcher House is not now needed, then it does not need refurbishing but how many residents know or understand what this statement ‘Dennis Pilcher House £800K’ signifies? Again, the consultation lacks ‘sufficient detail for consideration and response’.

how many residents know or understand what this statement ‘Dennis Pilcher House £800K’ signifies? Again, the consultation lacks ‘sufficient detail for consideration and response’.

I have had difficulty constraining my response to the further proposals now being consulted on and not straying into the other consultation that will end in May. I am sure I am not alone.

In future I urge the Council to:

> highlight the need for the consultation in bullet points and not in the long preamble

> to give more detail with each proposal so residents can make an informed response

Mary Temperton

Labour Councillor

Tom Neill

Posted by:

Tom Neill
Campaign Coordinator (North Bracknell)

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