Cllr Jonathan Owen is the Deputy Leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
On East Riding of Yorkshire Council, we approach the 2019 local elections in a positive fashion. Our council is Conservative controlled, and prudent financial management since the authority’s inception in 1996 has allowed us firm budget proposals until 2019/2020. After that, everything is uncertain – but we still believe we will be in a position to meet the challenges as well as anyone else in local government.
We have a balanced budget and a strong capital investment programme of which we are proud.
We have an unique business transformation programme that has responded to austerity, accepted the need to change, and has moved forward to improve services as well as making huge cost savings, whilst protecting the services our residents expect and working closely with all out partners, both public and private sector.
There is huge disappointment that there are, as of yet, no plans from central government regarding safeguarding the future of social care. This is despite announcements of funding for the NHS. That can only be considered as a ‘bailout’ due to the NHS not addressing deep rooted ‘central’ control failures which don’t allow for local innovation and transformation. This particularly applies around prevention measures to tackle long term health and social inequalities.
Locally, we are making great strides with our health and voluntary sector partners. Our Health and Wellbeing Board has developed a system wide approach where all our East Riding strategies (e.g. estates, IT, business
intelligence, and workforce) will be system ones and only organisational where justified. This is establishing a place-based approach with all partners being open and working together to tackle issues without any shifting of responsibility. We hope that this approach will work within and not conflict with the current Strategic Transformation Partnership, where the pressures seem to be around the financial stresses of the acute sector and not prevention.
We are passionate about taking decisions that are long term, and not politically driven short term solutions.
We recognise the huge implications of Brexit, and, as a rural authority, have to balance the issues of a huge rural area whilst being a very proactive partner through the two Local Enterprise Partnerships we belong to: The Humber LEP, an extremely powerful force in the development of the local renewables and ports agenda and the York, North Yorkshire, and East Riding LEP, which champions the cause of rurality and the resultant pressures on farming, tourism and coastal town survival.
We accept our roles on each body to work collectively for the betterment of our region.
We are totally supportive of the Conservative Party principles, whilst working across the region in debates about devolution, combined authorities, etc. without any party political motives, but for the interests of our residents.
We are committed to maintaining and developing local decision making in the true spirit of localism, in its original form, whilst responding to the needs of our residents. We will be continuing to listen to our residents, act on their wishes, and deliver the services they want, whatever their political persuasions, for the longer term benefit of all.
We will continue to challenge national government, of whatever political persuasion, to work towards what is best for our residents.
The local elections will be the most challenging for many years, even in traditional Conservative areas, but we look forward to them with enthusiasm!