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megilleland

Council Tax to rise by 1.9% - is our council doing enough?

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In The Guardian today Eric Pickles' announces that he is slashing local authority funding by up to 8.8%.

 

Financially weak councils will go bust and others will be forced to drastically reduce services to cope with cuts to town hall budgets outlined by ministers on Wednesday, local authorities have predicted

 

The warning came after the government revealed that councils in England would face spending reductions of up to 8.8% from April, with an average cut of 1.7%. The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, described the settlement as fair and said the onus was now on councils to do more to cut costs and pursue "sensible savings" to protect public services.

 

Following his cut The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government released today his:

 

50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government

 

I wonder how many of these have been adopted by our council especially as it's the Conservatives in the riding seat, and it is our council tax going up 1.9% from April 2013.

 

1. Share back office services

2. Community Budgets - Bring staff and money together

3. Use transparency to cut waste

4. Tackle duplicate payments

5. Clamp down on corporate charge cards

6. Special spending controls

7. Tackle fraud

8. Claw back money from benefit cheats

9. Get more for less by improving procurement

10. Buy together

11. Stop the scope for procurement fraud

12. Utilise £16 billion of reserves creatively

13. Improve council tax collection rates

14. Encourage direct debit and e-billing for council tax

15. Close council cash offices

16. Better land and property management

17. Hot-desking, estate rationalisation and sub-letting

18. Open a ‘pop up’ shop in spare office space

19. Close subsidised council canteens

20. Cancel away days in posh hotels and glitzy award ceremonies

21. Open a coffee shop in the library

22. Cut senior pay

23. Share senior staff

24. Scrapping the chief executive post entirely

25. Introduce a recruitment freeze

26. Freeze councillor allowances and end councillor pensions

27. Cut spending on consultants and agency staff

28. End expensive ’leadership’ courses

29. Cut spending on head hunters and expensive adverts

30. Review and reduce absenteeism

31. Scrap trade union posts

32. Charge for collecting trade union subscriptions

33. Stop spending money on commercial lobbyists

34. Stop translating documents into foreign languages

35. Reduce the number of publications and media monitoring

36. Earn more from private advertising

37. Cease funding ‘sock puppets’ and ‘fake charities’

38. Scrap the town hall Pravda

39. Stop providing free food and drink for meetings

40. Reduce first class travel

41. Cut mileage payments

42. Video conference instead of travel

43. Help the voluntary sector save you money

44. Cut printing costs

45. End lifestyle and equality questionnaires

46. Sell services

47. Hire out the town hall

48. Lease works of art not on display

49. Save money on computer software

50. And finally… ask your staff for more sensible savings ideas

 

To check out the reasoning read the document here:

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Well done lad. In time, once Ive digested the full implications of this communications from dear old Eric, I'll probably Post a more constructive comment. For the time being, I'll say this....We in Herefordshire are already fiscally skint and our Council Leadership are borrowing funds here, there and everywhere to fund their chaotic, deranged and badly thought out plans which are rapidly bringing about our ruin.

The one thing all you readers can be sure of is, this information is probably the most important piece of 'new fiscal reality' information that will be put before you all to read, digest and fully understand.

In short, we are already 'broke' and this news will bring about changes that we all will find hard to bear. I do, respectfully suggest that you read this, get your head around our predicament and think!

This is really bad news and it will affect your future and that of your children.

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Yes! I'm going to do two things before I sit back and peruse that jolly read. Firstly, I'll get my wife to hide my small derringer pistol in case I feel the need to blow my brains out after discovering the enormity of our problems and secondly I'll get drunk.

My warmest regards.

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Maybe they would not have to put our costs up if they reduced the amount of council offices that they have! It's ridiculous!

 

Town Hall St Owen Street

Franklin Barnes Building Commercial Road (how much was wasted on the now vacant Garrick House?)

Planning Offices in Blue School Street

Large Offices in Plough Lane (Former HP Bulmer Offices)

Brockington Hafod Road

Oval Offices

Council Offices Widemarsh Street

 

There are loads more, come on guy's remind me where they all are, think we need to remind the Hereford Times about all of these various buildings and costs!

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Well, I've read the whole thing and I can assure you all it ain't something you'd pick up in an Airport Terminal to pass away the hours. It's thoroughly depressing, there are no amusing anecdotes and it don't offer up much hope for the future.

That said, the list from Mr Pickles is entirely sensible and it should be implemented immediately. In fact, that list should be common practice 'now' and the fact that this list was ever drawn up in the first bloody place simply goes to illustrate just how out of control Councils and other public service bodies have become during the past fifteen years.

How on earth did we ever arrive at this point?

Here's my shot at answering my own bloody question.

Many years ago the Council and other public services recruited and paid low wages. People took these jobs because they were safe, they were for life and at the end, that employee had a great pension. Then the madness set in!

Along came New Labour who recognised public servants wages were low, loads of money was thrown at these public services and over time the Council became a fat bloated self serving job creation excercise who began to forget it was our money believing it was there's to do as they pleased. They became detached from reality, spent on this, that and the other and along the way created jobs that were pointless and provided nothing for you and I.

During this time they began to chant their mantra, 'if we want the best from the private sector we've got to pay the best' and the madness continued. Huge numbers were recruited, huge wages were dished out and very soon after we the public began to serve them rather than them serving us. Consequently, he we are today. Scratching our heads wondering where it all went wrong and how did this all happen.

The tragedy is that now this bubble has well and truly burst good people are going to lose their jobs. Their lives will never be the same again and why? Because of reckless leadership and reckless spending.

This chaotic and deranged Council need to quickly grasp this stinging nettle and begin to implement these savings. As painful as it is and is going to be, this has to be done and done quickly.

My warmest regards.

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I forgot to give an illustration of something I know about that is very relevant to the Pickles list. Councils up and down the Country used to employ their own team of handy men who'd have their own workshop and do this, that and the other.

That all stopped when the 'new management style' arrived.

The Council and private sector companies signed contracts and this work was given over to private companies who would come in when a lightbulb needed changing or some other type of maintenance work. These contracts are extremely lucrative and understandably they favour the private company rather than us. The Council are happy because they no longer have the bother of dealing with all of this.

Anyway,...about five years ago a Council employee needed to install a landline phone in new premises. He phoned BT and arranged to have this line installed. The cost? about £170.

This person informed his gaffer only to be told that this couldn't be done because the Council were contracted to some other company. This other company installed the landline phone. The cost? Over a thousand pounds.

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Well, I've read the whole thing and I can assure you all it ain't something you'd pick up in an Airport Terminal to pass away the hours. It's thoroughly depressing, there are no amusing anecdotes and it don't offer up much hope for the future.

That said, the list from Mr Pickles is entirely sensible and it should be implemented immediately. In fact, that list should be common practice 'now' and the fact that this list was ever drawn up in the first bloody place simply goes to illustrate just how out of control Councils and other public service bodies have become during the past fifteen years.

How on earth did we ever arrive at this point?

Here's my shot at answering my own bloody question.

Many years ago the Council and other public services recruited and paid low wages. People took these jobs because they were safe, they were for life and at the end, that employee had a great pension. Then the madness set in!

Along came New Labour who recognised public servants wages were low, loads of money was thrown at these public services and over time the Council became a fat bloated self serving job creation excercise who began to forget it was our money believing it was there's to do as they pleased. They became detached from reality, spent on this, that and the other and along the way created jobs that were pointless and provided nothing for you and I.

During this time they began to chant their mantra, 'if we want the best from the private sector we've got to pay the best' and the madness continued. Huge numbers were recruited, huge wages were dished out and very soon after we the public began to serve them rather than them serving us. Consequently, he we are today. Scratching our heads wondering where it all went wrong and how did this all happen.

The tragedy is that now this bubble has well and truly burst good people are going to lose their jobs. Their lives will never be the same again and why? Because of reckless leadership and reckless spending.

This chaotic and deranged Council need to quickly grasp this stinging nettle and begin to implement these savings. As painful as it is and is going to be, this has to be done and done quickly.

My warmest regards.

 

I could not of said it better myself, 100% right Bobby :Thumbs-Up:

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Looking at No 26 on the list "Freeze councillor allowances and end councillor pensions". I didn't realise that councillor's qualify for a Local Government pension scheme, but apparently they do.

 

 

From Pensions for Councillors in England and Wales

 

You pay 6% of your allowances as a councillor into the LGPS. If you pay tax you will get tax relief on your contributions at the time they are deducted from your allowances and if you pay National Insurance you will pay a lower rate of NI contributions up to State pension age. Your council pays the rest of the cost of providing your LGPS benefits, which costs the council about double the amount you pay.

 

At a time when public sector pensions are under the spotlight, the TaxPayers’ Alliance can reveal the true cost to taxpayers of ‘employer contributions’ to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). The equivalent of £1 in every £5 of council tax raised in the UK is spent on council pensions. This report also details the explosion in the number of councillors claiming council pensions.

 

Despite fulfilling a supposedly volunteer role, there are now 4,548 councillors on the LGPS, up by over 1,000 since 2007-08.

 

The Pension Fund is administered by Worcestershire County Council on behalf of their own employees (except Teachers), those of the Herefordshire Council, the District Councils and other bodies in the county of Worcestershire. You can see all Participating Employers of the Fund at 31 March 2011 here on p35 & 36:

 

Herefordshire Councillors' Allowance scheme here:

 

In view of the generous benefits I would be surprised if no councillors were partaking in the scheme. Maybe the council can tell us?

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Megilleland, Im somewhat shocked and slightly pleased that you didn't know this and I do mean this comment in the nicest possible way. You always strike me as a walking encyclopaedia and its refreshing to idiots like me that you don't know everything.

As I understand it Councillors can opt in or out of their pension scheme. Some make contributions and some don't.

It would be nice if a Councillor would jump into the bear pit and explain why this has been going on, for how long it's been going on and give us some idea of how much this costs us all.

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Thanks Bobby. Its all on the internet. You just have to search for it. The Council try and make it difficult by putting interesting items in the depths of its websites (the original and their beta2 version).

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As I understand it Councillors can opt in or out of their pension scheme. Some make contributions and some don't.

It would be nice if a Councillor would jump into the bear pit and explain why this has been going on, for how long it's been going on and give us some idea of how much this costs us all.

I suppose if you are a full time councillor it makes sense to join and if you keep getting re-elected the more beneficial it is to you. It's a shame that we have to pay for them out of the council tax. If I pay £120 a month council tax then I am popping £24 into their pockets. I would rather it went to some of our senior citizens.

Edited by megilleland

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give us some idea of how much this costs us all.

In the Council's October monthly expenditure £41,700 paid to Worcestershire County Council Pension Fund. This is a regular monthly payment and for the year around half a million pounds a year.

Edited by megilleland

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It's so bloody depressing! How on earth did we all arrive at this point? The real tragedy is that's its all done without a murmur of protest. People just suck it up and are apathetic to this and any other discussion regarding our plight and the enormity of the situation we now find ourselves in.

I wish there was a eureka moment, a tipping point where people stood up and said,'enough' but it's never going to happen. You'd have thought that following the MP's expenses scandal things would have got better, people would have become more inquisitive, more politically motivated and more vocal in their dismay but, nothing! Not a peep.

We are bloody doomed!

My best regards pal.

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It's so bloody depressing! How on earth did we all arrive at this point? The real tragedy is that's its all done without a murmur of protest. People just suck it up and are apathetic to this and any other discussion regarding our plight and the enormity of the situation we now find ourselves in.

I wish there was a eureka moment, a tipping point where people stood up and said,'enough' but it's never going to happen. You'd have thought that following the MP's expenses scandal things would have got better, people would have become more inquisitive, more politically motivated and more vocal in their dismay but, nothing! Not a peep.

We are bloody doomed!

My best regards pal.

 

Write to the Hereford Times and bring it out in the open, it's the only way.

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Mick, it's a waste of time. The Hereford Times get inundated with letters regarding this form of complaint. Nothing happens mate.

Im one of the regular Posters and I've been hurling curses at the Council Leadership for as long as my deranged mind can remember. It's a pointless and futile excercise that only serves to make me feel less bloody depressed about the ruination that awaits all Herefordians.

Our only hope is divine intervention. We need God or the Sweet Loving Jesus to take pity upon us and through supernatural wizardry, they spirit away the entire Council leadership to some other place where they can do less harm and allow us to pick up the shattered pieces of our once happy home.

My very best wishes.

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I have read the many coments made here which I agree with, let me make my position clear in my 10 years of being a councillor I HAVE NOT,subscribe to the pension of the council I was only made aware of it 2 years ago but chose not to join. The allowance that councillors are allowed pays for our equipment (computers/printers) broadband, line rental, phones and phone bills etc, when I travel to Westminster I choose to pay my own train travel to London and come back to Hereford the same day.

As a back bencher I am tired of being classed the same as the ruling party, and while they have the one seat majority can do nothing about it, but I am sure you have read my many coments about the administration in the press, and if you attend council also hear my questions to the leader and cabinet members there.I sincerely hope that all those people who put the Conservatives in power in 2011 will seriously think twice when casting their votes in 2015! No offence intended to the members who have written their views on this subject here, I just wanted to make my position clear!

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And absolutely no offence has been taken Councillor. I'm so pleased that you felt comfortable and able to comment upon this issue.

When I first began directing my ire at the Council, because I had no understanding of the leadership dynamic, I and others assumed that blame could be placed at the door of every Councillor elected into Office.

Of course, nowadays, now we all are familiar with the way in which 'they' conduct themselves and deliver 'their' form of democracy, we now know that we were wrong and our demise and path to ruin is the fault of 'those' who have their clutching hands on the levers of power.

In mitigation Glenda, I would say that because no light was shone upon the issue and the secretive manner in which 'they' conduct business, we had no option other than to work it out for ourselves. Now, through hard work and leaked information from within, we now understand the unholy and destructive dynamic that exists within that chaotic, deranged and deluded Council Leadership.

My very warmest regards to you and thank you for jumping into the bear pit.

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I have a reputation of speaking my mind, as you can imagine not everyone appreciate my doing that but I have a code I live by which is whether my opinion pleases or offend you know where you stand with me! I tell it as I see it, pity others don't do the same as we would not be in the mess we are in!

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