The Bickerstaffe Record

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A selective reading

08.28.09 | Comment?

The Chief Executive of West Lancashire Borough Coucil seems keen to maximise his column inches in Municipal Journal, the ‘industry paper’.  Here he is on 06 August, sounding really rather proud of the council’s decision to slash services:

Michael Burton’s excellent recent editorial on the issue of the need for sharp cuts in public spending summed up well the mood of local government (‘The pessimists win the day’).


Recently, the council took some very difficult decisions to cut its spending by around 10%, and we know that in the future, we are going to have to redouble our efforts when it comes to innovation and efficiency.

At the same time, we have to constantly revisit our list of priorities, and our members must continue to make difficult choices. One option, which is absolutely not on the horizon, is to raise council tax, as it is clear to me that there is no public appetite nationally for council tax increases.’

Yeah, right!  Not too certain there’s a big public appetite for massive service cuts when you’got £12.5 million squirrelled away in reserves either, mate.

It’s a shame he apparently doesn’t read all the articles /editorials in the MJ, and only the ones that suit his and his Tory masters’ line of poor thinking.  If he did, he might have seen: ‘Why Cuts could cause a new slump’ (22 July), which has another view on West Lancashire Council’s decisions.

West Lancashire BC announced a £1.5m package of spending reductions, jobs cuts and efficiency measures, in order to balance the books. Almost 60 jobs are to go……

A briefing, obtained by The MJ, revealed a senior official’s warning: ‘It’s not our job to get into the politics, but as part of the planning, the Government has set out to reduce debt. With slower growth, the question is whether we adjust slower or quicker. If we pull a lot of money out of the economy, it could cause problems.’

This is as far as politically-neutral officials can go, but a leading economist has dared to voice his concerns.

……Writing in a national newspaper, David Blanchflower, until earlier this year a member of the Bank Of England’s monetary policy committee, issued a stinging warning……..

‘Public spending cuts make absolutely no sense. The Government should be increasing spending now – and by a lot – not least because it can borrow at such a low, long-run rate of interest.

Oh no, acknowledging that there might be a coherent alternative to the self-aggrandising, serve minimising ‘cut now, think later’ approach by our local administration wouldn’t do at all.

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