Lancashire County Council is once again plunged into chaos and confusion by the Conservative Administration. This follows clear public statements that the budget proposals would go out for full public consultation by the Council Leader, Cllr Geoff Driver, as well many Conservative Councillors.
The controversial budget proposals “appendix C, Service Challenge Savings (Consultation Required), which includes cuts to Waste Recycling Centres, Public Transport for Schools, Street Lighting, Special Education Needs Transport, Older peoples Services, Welfare Rights, Health Improvement, Lancashire Wellbeing, Disabled Home Improvements and Traveller Sites. This is all part of £77 million cuts being proposed in services to mostly vulnerable peoples services in communities right across Lancashire.
However the Chief Executive in response to concerns raised by the Labour Group that, no dates set for the consultation, nothing on the web site regarding a public consultation and no media release outlining a public consultation replies:
“Those proposals included in Appendix C are such that the form of the consultation must be fully considered on a case by case basis with the scope, nature, content and length of each separate consultation being carefully planned by specialists with skill and experience in conducting consultation of this nature. Clearly this will take some time and in any event, these are not all due to be launched immediately. I fully appreciate that failing to carry out a consultation exercise properly vastly increases the possibility of a successful challenge and there is nothing to be gained by seeking to find short cuts or to consult on a half-hearted basis.”
There is also no sign of the public consultation promised regarding the tax to be imposed right across Lancashire through Town Centre Parking Charges.
Cllr John Fillis, Labour Deputy Leader, said “It’s an absolute disgrace that the Conservatives will make these cuts before the public has been consulted. With Lancashire County Council Budget Meeting set for 14th February 2019, there is not enough time for a meaningful consultation with the public. It’s clear that the decision will be taken to cut services first by the Conservative followed by a patronising public consultation.”
“The Conservative promised public consultation even the front of the budget document says consultation required. They should be listening to local people before they decide not after. These decisions will hit the most vulnerable the hardest, elderly, disabled and children. Unfortunately this is typical, they closed down the Cabinet Meetings, reduced Councillors ability to raise concerns at full council and they are now turning public consultation into an afterthought.”
“What we need is open and honest Government, which is sadly lacking nationally and locally.”