We need mandate to pay for services

Friday, January 31, 2014


LETTERS From Cllr Stewart Blackmore, Ventnor:

THE IW Council is facing up to the unenviable task of setting the budget in the face of massive government cuts, coupled with the results of the previous administration.

We are, as town and parish councillors, now being asked to look carefully at 'discretionary’ services, with a view to prioritising them and, perhaps, funding them through the precept.

I do not object to this as a matter of principal because, at the last local election, I stood on a platform of localism.

I meant by this that town and parish councils should have powers devolved from the unitary authority, so people can make truly local decisions and be accountable to their electorate.

This is true localism, while the government’s view, as espoused by Mr Pickles, means nothing of the sort.

Its view of localism is this: "Local authorities can do what they like for their communities, provided the government agrees."

If David Pugh’s administration had not caved in to Mr Pickles’s wishes by freezing council tax and had increased it by two per cent, year on year, we would not by now be facing a truly frightening £28 million of cuts over the next three years.

Cllr Ian Stephens calls it, in that rather quaint and unobtrusive phrase, "re-engineering".

It’s nothing of the kind.

There will be devastating cuts to all services which Islanders depend upon — adult social services, children’s services, personal budgets, the list goes on.

Islanders have the answer to this dilemma.

The leader of the council should announce immediately there will be a referendum, scheduled to coincide with the general election in 2015, seeking a mandate from the electorate to increase council tax to a level which is needed to preserve vital public services.

Given that option, the electorate’s decision would be conclusive.

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