There can be few people unaware of just how harsh cuts the councils have faced over recent years. With the Government grant set to disappear entirely over the next several years there are regular stories in the paper of which council is set to go over the cliff edge first.
Last night, Crawley’s cabinet approved the council’s budget strategy for the coming year. The strategy replicates the approach we have successfully used over recent years, working to generate new income to cover to balance the budget instead of cutting local services. This, incidentally, is the approach Labour now proposes to use nationally to fix the UK’s public services.
In Crawley, we’ve done this in various ways, from using council capital reserves to invest in local property (giving the public more control over the use of land in the borough) to providing new leisure opportunities people want to pay for, like the increasing range of animals at the Nature Centre.
The next step involves the Town Hall itself and yesterday the council also held an extraordinary Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting to go through the numbers in detail. While ongoing negotiations mean the content of the meeting is commercially sensitive and hence confidential for now, you can always count on the OSC to give such proposals a good grilling and this scheme, if approved, looks set to future-proof Crawley’s finances for years to come.