“Our future together in Staffordshire” says the inside headline but I don’t recognise the locations or the models – let’s hope they are all in Staffordshire.
What are the facts behind the headings though?
We can only be pleased that unemployment has reduced but there has to be concern over the increase in “forced” self employment numbers. I was in that position in the early 90’s. I was employed but then the “choice” came to be unemployed or self employed (but doing the same job). I chose self employed – at least for a year – until I found further employment. I admire the self-employed but it has to be a real choice knowing you can afford the insurances and a future pension.
In 2014 (last figures available) the County Council had 2% on zero hour contracts and it was revealed that 3% of staff were paid less than the minimum wage.
A better Health Service
In 2013 not long before the last County Council elections they (the future Police and Crime Commissioner) issued a press release saying work was due to start on Greenwood House. It still hasn’t and the building will be demolished soon.
The permanent replacement for the Health Centre near the Leisure Centre has still not happened and our Tory MP has done nothing to move it on after the Coalition Government cancelled it in 2010.
My recent Freedom of Information request has revealed that the CCG, the local Clinical Commissioning Group run by and for doctors, have not received any communication, of any kind, from him between April 2013 and the 12th of January this year! The NHS gave me the same answer last year.
Staying well and healthy
If you or your family have had contact with Social Services recently you will know this is rubbish – and costs have increased. The 3% increase in Council Tax for Social Care will not be noticed by the vulnerable or frail in Burntwood. The cuts this year to debt advice for local Citizens Advice Bureau will be unlikely to help residents’ health and wellbeing.
Extra £3m to tackle potholes
Read the small print! It doesn’t just say potholes (we do promise an extra £1.5 million just for pothole repair) but roads generally. And what is the £250k fund “communities can bid into”? DIY pothole repair?
But they are buying a new machine!
Well in answer to a Labour question at the last County Council meeting it was revealed that they hired one vehicle, contracted another and were going to contract another one this year.
Surely this means that there will then be an increase in pothole repairs of a third?
If so then look out for six (6) potholes repaired in the next 12 months in Burntwood North Division and eight (8) potholes repaired in Burntwood South Division. We are luckier because we should then have eight(!) done. I know it is hard to believe but the Cabinet member’s answer was that 4 potholes had been repaired in the preceding 12 months in Burntwood North and 6 in Burntwood South by these machines which each, “generally cost …between £6000 and £9000 a week”.
You couldn’t – and I haven’t – make it up and here’s their record on pothole repairs.
If you read it it’s rather defensive of poor results – but they had to put something in I suppose. Of course they don’t mention the funding proposals with predicted cuts of between 6% and 10% on average for Burntwood Schools – £39 million for the county as a whole and over 1,000 teachers.
To see what the prospect is for your school in the area click here.
Stronger and safer
No reference to cuts to libraries or the abolition of the Youth Service but great opportunities for volunteers – the Big Society comes to Staffordshire. Clearly the Police and Crime Commissioner, the man previously responsible for Social Services in the County carries on his great ambition to take over the Fire Service as well the Police Service..
A place to grow old.
Whilst Labour want to make the County a dementia friendly County the Tories are proposing to stop maintaining stairlifts and other equipment for older people in their homes. They (again when the current Police and Crime Commissioner was in charge) cut the Handyperson Service for older people that carried out small repairs for the old and the vulnerable at a low fixed cost. Changing a light bulb or putting up curtains now may mean employing someone at commercial costs and can lead to the temptation to stand on a chair and do it yourself. Apart from the distress the risk of falling is increased and result in a greater bill for the public purse in A and E.
A well run council
“We will keep council tax to a minimum”
It’s true that some costs have been reduced – by cutting important services like the Youth Service and Libraries for example and charging for DIY waste. One elderly lady found out last weekend that she had to pay £3 for a bag of old cement but thought she had paid for with her Council Tax. It wasn’t in Conservative election leaflets last time of course.
Staffordshire are now charging extra to Lichfield District, and other district councils so they in turn want to charge you £36 to empty your brown bin.
Staffordshire County Council, the Conservative-run Police Authority and Lichfield District have all charged the maximum – not the minimum (0%) they are allowed to charge by law without holding a referendum.
Though in fact when residents were consulted over the District Council’s future budgets, thanks to Labour pressure, 70 % of you said “no” to a bin tax.