News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Budget Meeting

Tonight's first round of budget negotiations saw a majority eventually agree to a proposed 4.7% increase in our council tax contributions. The main sticking point of the evening was the proposal that we employ a "Clean Environment Warden". Like many others, I remain unconvinced of the likely impact that this one person could have on the town, but others seem to think that some kind of superhuman being will come forward to clean up Folkestone. No doubt he will fly in to the trouble spots on his broomstick! The problem is that the legislation allowing Towns and Parishes to take on such people is brand new, so we would be in the first wave of authorities experimenting with the untried scheme. I'm concerned that we could take someone on (at 5% of our budget) and see nothing for the money, and then find it almost impossible to lay him or her off again. I would rather wait a year, so that we can see how other authorities do it and learn from their mistakes and successes.

The Lib Dems showed themselves up as the same opportunistic bunch that we have come to know and love (perhaps not!). They proposed that the increase in spending be approved, but that taxes should not be increased to pay for it. Apparently, they know better than the auditor, who urged that we should increase our uncommitted reserves for improved financial governance. Quite how they would pay for the aftermath of any future landslip is questionable - perhaps the Clean Environment Warden will be sent in with his broom and clipboard!

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