Reading through the cabinet papers for the meeting this evening I am some what surprised that £21.3 million of the proposed savings over the next three years are rated as having a high risk of not being realised. That includes the £1.2 million of savings on the leisure contract - this may mean closing leisure centres to achieve the savings. It also includes the £1.5 million of highway maintenance which may lead to higher costs in the future. Adult and children's social services are also hit hard. Sadly the proposal to remove school crossing patrols and road safety officers (savings £117,000) is only rated as medium risk although it does note under performance impact, "Could affect safety".
Actually reading through the list of proposed cuts is tragic. It appears to be hitting those in most need hardest, adult and children's social services. No mention of cutting the sky high salaries enjoyed by some of the senior managers. In fact in a separate report it identifies that the council is raiding the contingency fund to pay for the additional £530,000 to fund new posts in the commercial department. So in addition to the Commercial Director (£180,870 inc. on-costs) and the Assistant Director (£137,010 inc. on-costs) they have recruited another Assistant Director on £119,560 – £130,300 (inc on costs) and a corporate programmes manager on £72,420 – £77,680 (inc on-costs) to name but two.
I remain incredibly concerned that this budget cutting has picked on those least able to defend themselves whilst featherbedding those with the most to gain. We need a full and open dialogue on the budget cuts not some stage managed citizens panel and an ideas website that was the conduit for senior council management proposals. Come on Barnet Council, start talking to the residents, the people you are suppose to be here to serve.