Value for Money?
At the October meeting of Cheshire East Council, the Labour Group proposed that the Council welcome the auditors' qualified 'Value for Money' conclusions and act, as recommended, to put in place measures to improve its performance. The wording of the motion to Council was based entirely on the conclusions drawn by the external auditors and presented in their report. On this basis the Labour group confidently expected that the Council's Tory administration would accept the proposal, which was referred to the Cabinet.
Astonishingly, at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 10 December, the Cabinet:
Ø rejected the auditor’s comments that more needs to be done to ensure that tough decisions are taken when setting the budget rather than relying on services to deliver savings in year;
Ø refused to commit to setting a realistic budget for 2014/15 so that the major overspends seen in recent years do not recur and that unplanned remedial actions are not necessary;
Ø and did not agree to ensure that its decision making is – and is seen to be -transparent to the public
In explaining why they rejected the motion the Conservatives seemed to contradict each other.
Cllr Michael Jones said that the Council is doing what the auditors had requested, but Cllr Peter Raynes said that the Council had already done it.
Cllr Michael Jones said to Cllr Peter Raynes, “Do you think we should call you ‘Dangerous’ in future.”
The Conservatives certainly are ‘dangerous’ for public services.
Cllr Sam Corcoran said, “The Conservatives have shown breathtaking complacency in claiming that everything in the garden is now rosy.
The recent fiasco over garden waste collections shows the dangers of remedial actions in year and proves that the Council has NOT fully addressed the auditor’s concerns. The parallels with Lyme Green are stark. In both cases there was pressure to make quick savings and normal procedures were by-passed resulting in reputational damage and wasted expense. Sending garden waste to landfill is expensive and bad for the environment. I am pleased that it has now been confirmed that garden waste collections will continue until the end of November in 2014.”
Cllr David Newton, Labour Group Leader, added, "The Labour Group is keen to see that the best possible services are delivered to the Cheshire East public, giving great value for money. There can be no room for complacency and we will continue to challenge the Conservatives to improve their performance and hold them to account for their actions".