John Pollard, leader of Cornwall Council, has issued a “Don’t blame us, blame them” message as he admitted that central Government cuts to Cornwall’s budget will make services suffer.
Councillors at Lys Kernow have voted through the “Local Plan” and approved a Council Tax hike of 4% . They also approved cuts of £34 million and approved the building of thousands of houses across the Duchy.
The plans for next year’s budget were agreed at a full Council hearing in Truro yesterday (22/11).
Council leader John Pollard told Radio Cornwall “We can’t help the cuts. The government is insisting that our funding is reduced and therefore we have to adjust to that. We’re trying to maintain the services, like how people’s bins are collected and so on, by doing things differently”
However, he didn’t make it clear where the cuts would be coming from.
“We need to make sure that people will receive services but clearly they will be affected, services will be reduced simply by the fact that we have to cut all this money”
“We have a four year budget plan but millions and millions of pounds are being taken out of the central support grant (the money given to Cornwall by the government) and that will be reduced to nil by 2020 – we are preparing the public for the fact that by then the only money we will get is from Business Rates and Council Tax”
The Council Tax increase includes a ring-fenced 2% levy to be spent on Adult Social Care.
The council also approved the building of 52,000 new houses across the Duchy.
Pollard agreed there would be alot of opposition to the plan : “We need to be clear that the Local Plan is not just about housing. Yes, we’ve agreed on 52,000 but there was a lobby from developers to make it over 90,000. The local plan will only add 0.25% to the local built environment – it’s not the kind of imposing number being portrayed by some”
“The Local Plan is about more than housing numbers, it’s about our ability to control housing numbers and our ability to plan where that building will take place. The Local Plan is a good thing – it means we can develop Cornwall how we want it to, not as imposed by other people”
He said all consultation on the plan is now ‘done and dusted’ and it has been agreed.
“It’s been through lots of consultation and debated by full council twice. I know many people will see the dangers in this and will not accept the housing numbers but I wish them to see it as a piece of legislation that develops Cornwall in the way we want to. It’s significant and it’s important and another step forward to the kind of Cornwall we want to see”
The council also voted to reject Grammar schools, discussed a plan to help bee numbers in Cornwall….. and voted to use recyclable cups in the council’s cafe.