Whilst the County Council’s endeavour to save money by constantly reducing services to the public, there never seems to be much of an effort, over time, to reign in its own operating costs.
We have roads full of dangerous and damaging potholes, road signage dirty and obscured by foliage, road markings in need of updating, of schools closing, care homes closing, ambulance and fire services curtailed or reduced, not forgetting the idiotic decision that has reduced Library hours by around 50% - albeit hailed by some County Councillors as a ‘victory’, and an acceptable decimation of the Library service!
What NEVER seems to be reduced or ‘cutback’ are the “allowances” paid to Councillors - NOT just their legitimate expenses for performing their voluntary duties - but an overall amount of several thousand pounds, irrespective of their actual expenditure.
The County magazine costs just under £200,000 a year, and would not really be missed if it were to be terminated.
Tablet computers for councillors and staff amount to about £35,000, including support services. (? many used for “other than” council business)
Laptops issued to Councillors - 37 in total, amounts to some £18,000.00 + £6,500.00 support.
The most horrendous statistic is the 3,158 laptops in use at £827 each + support costs. (around £3 million total) Although LCC is a large employer - ? does it really need or warrant that number of laptop computers - even for staff on the move around different locations?
Then there is the IT Support - Software - Licencing & Maintenance etc at around £4.9m per annum!!!
Finally, the cost of translation services to foreigners is an horrendous £105,000.00.
In my opinion, many of these costs have been allowed to spiral in a virtually uncontrolled manner, and would probably now be difficult to curtail, (particularly the number of computers in use).
There remains a fair level of ‘fat’ that could still be trimmed - greatly reducing “allowances” to what is actually spent by Councillors - dispensing with the County Magazine - making foreigners pay for their own translation services, or insist they learn our language -and removing tablets computers from Councillors as most probably have computers at home anyway.
Finally.....as Libraries are being shut down and the County Manager has less responsibility, that post should also be made “part time” - or have a salary reduction proportionate - if indeed it needs to be kept at all.
Whilst the general public are ‘trimming back’ in many ways in their personal struggle to maintain a moderate standard of living - there is NO justification for local government to keep cutting back on our services - when they are often less diligent in controlling their own expenditures or benefits.
Ron Fisher (Mr)