Keeping it Real

The budget rightly continues to dominate Council business and will do so even after Budget Council on March 8th as a number of budget consultations will still be under way. One of the things that often comes up in consultation meetings, mainly from the far " left " is the suggestion that the Council should stand up to the Coalition Government and refuse to make their cuts. An attractive idea maybe to somebody shouting from the back of a meeting, but not one that bears much scrutiny. Implementation of this idea would require the Council to set a budget where expenditure exceeded income, i.e., one that didn't balance, one that was illegal.

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Fighting for Fairness

The Council Executive met today to agree its budget recommendations to the full Council. The recommendations now go to Scrutiny and with any proposed amendments are considered by Finance Scrutiny on February 25th. They then go for debate and decision at a special budget Council meeting on March 8th, but even then the process is not over. A number of the budget proposals are subject to separate consultations. The one on Leisure, a non-statutory consultation, concludes on March 8th and is considered by the Council Executive on April 10th. The other statutory consultations on various aspects of the Adult and Children's Care proposals and on Libraries conclude in April and will be considered by the Executive early in May.

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Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Started writing this yesterday morning. Then it was to have been a return to the theme of why even in these difficult times the Council continues to invest in arts, culture and events. This was motivated by a short speech to a NESTA and Arts Council sponsored conference on art and digital and then a later conversation with Harriet Harman wearing her shadow DCMS hat sandwiched around attendance at the Council's Economy Scrutiny Committee.

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Northern Connections

For the second consecutive Monday, I'm on a train to Leeds. Last week it was to join other Core City Leaders at Leeds City Museum to meet David Cameron and Nick Clegg following the HSR route announcements. Although the meeting started with HSR it moved rapidly to the wider devolution agenda and the need for cities to have more influence and control over the economic levers if we are to re-balance the economy and create sustainable jobs.

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