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The Observer has a piece this morning about "an inner London Council" (teasingly they don't say which one) from whichthey have got leaked papers about spending cut options. I suspect it is a Labour council as the tone is pretty defeatist with quotes from a Council Cabinet Member about how there "isn't an option" about cutting voluntary sector grants by 60%, leaving potholes unrepaired, ending luncheon clubs for pensioners, etc.

Not carrying out road resurfacing promptly can prove a false economy. I've had residents in my ward asking why a road was being surfaced when it seemed in pretty good condition.  I was told the inspection will have identified a build up of slight fragmentation of the surface (hardly noticeable) which is the first sign of water ingress. Once that starts occurring the surface will degrade albeit it can be quite slowly.

The rub is however that when it does eventually require replacement (sometimes it can go quite quickly if the winter is bad and require emergency replacement) then the whole surface will have to be removed which is a substantially more time consuming and very much more expensive operation. The choice is spend a little now or a lot in a couple of years. I guess the proof of whether this approach works or whether it is baloney is that we are spending quite a lot less on road resurfacing now than a few years ago. The treatment then seals the road for I think something like 15 years.


As the council isn't named it is not possible to identify what else they could be saving. Or to look at the plans to see what are only options, or the rationale behind them. Some proposals are rather less alarming than the paper implies. For instance cutting spending on street lighting by £50,000 implies a pretty modest reduction. Depending on the size of the borough perhaps 5%-10%. Thus far the evidence has not indicated that councils that have reduced street lighting has caused an increase in road accidents or crime. At present there is more street lighting than needed in some places.

Others included might be reasonable but we need the details to judge. For instance: 

"Stop carrying out decorations following repairs" but instead give vouchers to people to undertake work themselves. (Saving: £300,000 in one year.)

We will have a lot more arguments from the Left about how  it is impossible to cut spending without cutting services. But the more that case is subjected to scrutiny the more it will be defeated.

13 comments for: The Observer given leaked Council paper on service cuts plan

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