Opposition councillors, including me, angrily railed against central government for the massive budget cuts and how the increase in council tax would hit those hardest, who could afford it the least.
Cllr Richard Westlake said that he was pleased that local MPs were not very happy about the cuts.
I said I was encouraged to hear this and asked Cllr Hart whether they had indicated in that case, whether they would vote against the settlement bill, which is thought will come to the House of Commons on Wednesday 3 February.
Cllr Hart replied that he didn’t know but that all the shire county councils were very unhappy about the budget cuts as they had not anticipated such a significant reduction. He added that there was now “a groundswell” within county councils across the country “the like of which I had never seen before.”
There was also “egg on the face of the Local Government Association” Cllr Hart said, as they had (unbelievably!) described the latest government settlement as “a good deal.”
Other services such as fire, police and district councils may well also raise their own council tax.
Over the past five years Devon County Council has been forced to cut £174m from its budget, which has meant widespread service and staff cuts.
There is an overspend of £7.3m in the social care and education budget, which other directorates are having to finance by remaining underspent.
The services in the “People’s” directorate include: Children’s Social work, child protection, education and learning, social care commissioning and adult social care. All of these departments are overspent. This is a result of underfunding and increased pressure on services.
So… will the Conservative MPs who complained privately about the budget cuts vote against the plans when they come to the House of Commons in early February?
If you want to watch the debate, the link to the webcast is here> It is agenda item 7 – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/195900
Each agenda item is broken down into speakers so you can dip in and out as you wish.