Posted by: vickim57 | 14 February 2010

Isle of Wight SOS = Save Our Services! Public meeting, Weds 17 February

Public Meeting Hosted by the Isle of Wight UNISON union branch

Save Our Services!
Wednesday, 17 February 2010, 7-9pm

Hunnyhill Room, The Riverside Centre, The Quay, Newport, Isle of Wight

One week before the Council meets to pass a budget for the next year -which threatens massive cuts to services relied upon by the most vulnerable people on the island – this is our chance as workers, service users and concerned members of the public to come together in an 11th hour bid to save our services.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for people to understand how the likely effects of the planned cuts and work out how best to make the council change its mind.

There will be a pre-meeting on Monday 15th February, 5.15pm @ the Bargeman’s Rest to work out an agenda / process for this important meeting. Please send representatives from affected services.


Responses

  1. How can the council crisis be solved? Only the workers and citizens of the Isle of Wight can save the day !

    The way that the budget has been presented by the council, you would think that there is no alternative. In fact there is an alternative and the Trades Councils are considering options like other people and groups on the island.
    The council has presented a top down approach to the problem; its consultations have been based on options of cuts and “what area would you like these cuts to be?” And not on whether there should be any cuts at all. Considering that the people themselves have not caused the crisis in the economy and the man made shortfalls in the budget, we consider that the option of “no cuts at all” is a real option. It is by presenting a bottom up alternative that the people of the Isle of Wight can save the day.

    It is also important to stress that the presentation of a 2.5% increase in council tax at a time when people are struggling to make ends meet is not a “minimum” as they say and not the way to solve the problem.

    The council in their budget report has pointed towards delivering services better. Now no-one is against efficiencies but they are duping us when they say that the way forward is through better systems and processes. The new computer system for example was supposed to deliver a better service but as is widely known in the council the system was delivered incorrectly by the management. People were not trained and staff was reduced – disregarding staff objections. Consequently the computer system was left to outside consultants who have still not delivered and instead of a projected saving is still causing a deficit. This is not a smarter way of working and there are other departmental cases where this has happened. The council talks about less bureaucracy but this has not been achieved through job cuts in key areas and leaving in place the jobs for the boys at the top. In fact the top jobs that have continually been created along with the consultants and executives on retainers have all added costs. This where we should look to make savings.

    They say that the issue can be solved with fewer buildings. In reality they have built and retain expensive offices for executives whilst proposing cutting out buildings that have provided services.
    The option of increasing parking costs will of course hit the general public who rely on their cars and would in essence be an added tax. Increases in charges at Leisure Centres will either support the privileged few or cut people out altogether. Stopping or reducing services raises the question of what we are paying council tax for if in this day and age services are being diminished and costs are forever rising out of reach.
    The council has said that its priority is the school re-organisation. This dogmatic approach under the present circumstances should be frozen. The costs of PFI programmes particularly concerning the road system will not deliver a cheap option but will hide a massive future on cost and should be abandoned. The figure released in the council budget for the Highways PFI is an incredible £981,000.
    Social care, particularly for the elderly, should not be considered as an option for cuts. This is fundamental as is the care for people with illnesses and disabilities as well as care in old age. It is what the council should be fundamentally about, there are many elderly on this island and we will all probably have the need at some point. Delivery of this should be a priority and of the highest quality and reducing costs here is not an option. Independent living and institutionalised support translates as closing of essential establishments and homes.

    The failure of the Council to re-consider the cost of the de-regulated buses on the island, where the Go-Ahead group who own Southern Vectis is taking a large amount of money through fares and concessions, is an indictment. The Council has stated in its budget report that the concessions shortfall is £3,000,000. This pays for free travel for pensioners and students. The student fare is now to be raised it seems. Why does no-one ask the question about re-regulating the buses and then the service can be improved with all profits and government subsidies going to the council? Here the best service would be provided at the discretion of the council acting on behalf of the citizens and there would be no such shortfall in the concession. Fares could be kept at a more reasonable level for those that have to pay and reduced to the point where car usage would probably drop.
    How come the inflationary and energy costs are up as well as contracts? The costs of contracts raises the old question about whether it is better to employ ones own skilled workforce under certain circumstances because of the costs of private contractors, which is always open to abuse. The rising costs of energy again raises the question of a sustainable energy policy on the island and all of the arguments surrounding investment in renewables and energy saving. The Council has much to answer for concerning its stance over the production and placement of Wind turbines. The £1,700, 000 deficit in this area is a growing concern for the future of the local economy and council budgeting if this is to continue to rise. Investment in the right area can reduce overall costs if it is acted upon now.

    There is nothing to suggest that the proposals to invest in tourism are going to work. The £1/2m suggested is something that should be re-looked at. Why the West Midlands Enterprise is being considered is a mystery. Along with its £185k spend. The obvious tourist enhancement is in the resort areas and run down facilities like Ventnor Winter Gardens, which require instant investment and the also the Ferry prices. One area that is struggling and supports tourism and the locals is small shops on the high street etc. Some are having tyo shut down and the boards are going up.Eligible hereditaments with a rateable value of less than £5,000 can get 50% rate relief. This will decrease on a sliding scale of 1% for every additional £100 of rateable value up to £10,000 where relief will be nil. Why is this area not considered for further support?

    Yet the island has always had a certain amount of manufacturing industry to support the economy and the working population. Companies have been allowed to up sticks and move out like Vestas without the slightest objection by the council despite the revenue that has been lost. The investment plans must take this into consideration if long term costs are to be brought down and investment capital is to be gained.

    The other demand has to be upon the government who are willing to take taxes out of the island and yet are not willing to put enough money in. The council, the MP and all Isle of Wight citizens including organisations like Trades Unions should be stepping up demands against a government who are presiding over the recession and paying banks should be pressured. The government should not be allowed to shift the burden of the economic crisis onto local budgets; instead they should cough up more money to pay for services and local investments.


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