Friday, July 23, 2010

The Cost of the Coalition

Full Council was dominated last night by a spirited debate about the robbing from Darlington of the Building Schools for the Future money by the ConDems. It was, shall we say, interesting to watch Tory and LibDem councillors opposite performing logic gymnastics as they tried to reconcile their support for the BSF campaign with a slavish defence of their Government's slash and burn approach to public spending.

I would imagine the debate would have been more heated still had councillors been privy to the news released by Durham Constabulary today that it is issuing 90 day redundacy notices to all of its 1160 civilian staff, which include its community support officers. The BBC website says that it is expected that 200 will lose their jobs.

To quote from the press release in full;

"Durham Constabulary, along with all other public sector bodies, is considering its budget for 2010/11 in line with the government’s comprehensive spending review which will be announced in the autumn.

"We expect that some jobs will go; how many depends on the outcome of the comprehensive spending review which reports in October.

"In preparation for this, all 1,160 members of police staff employed by Durham Police Authority are being issued with notices advising that their posts are being considered for potential redundancy and that the statutory 90 day consultation period has started.

"This does not mean that all 1,160 police staff posts will go. "It means that when we are in a position to consider where cuts will be made, the formal process will already have been underway for some time."

Assistant Chief Officer, Gary Ridley, said: “Despite undertaking a range of actions to save money, such as freezing recruitment, offering early retirement, voluntary redundancy and centralising functions within its HQ site at Aykley Heads, it is clear that compulsory redundancies need to be considered in light of likely future reductions in the amount of government grant the constabulary receives.

“We are working closely with the Police Authority and Trade Unions to try and minimise the impact on our staff whilst maintaining a service to the people of County Durham and Darlington."

From my perspective as a ward councillor, the community officers perform a valuable role in tackling crime and responding to concerns, and we will all be watching the situation closely. No-one should be in any doubt either of the importance played by civilian staff - they free up officers to work on the front line, and from my own experience politically and professionally, I kmow how they help keep the public safe, albeit not in a way many will appreciate on a day-to-day basis.

Another bleak day. But believe me, this is just a taste of what is to come over the next few months.


Paul Cain said...

This week it was reported that only 1 in 10 police officers actually spends time on the streets. The rest are filling in paperwork, New Labour's favourite pastime.

The community support officers have limited powers and were a typical New Labour way of covering up a real problem of policing on the streets.

As always with your mob, Councillor, it was appearances, rather than reality, that counted.

The public sector financing crisis is the fault of your party.

A period of silence from you and those of you who share your tribal views would be preferable to this desperate attempt to make us all forget who was in charge for the last 13 years.

Since you've returned to blogging you have shown not a single hint that you and your colleagues may be reflecting upon why you were so decisively rejected on May.

There is no contrition for the vileness of New Labour's approach. There is no indication that you recognise just how out of touch your party had become.

There is no indication that you understand that the Coalition has carte-blanche to slash and burn because your party has lost all moral right to comment on running an economy.

Seriously: some reflection, some self-honesty and even an apology would be your best approach at the moment.

james said...

"The public sector financing crisis is the fault of your party."

Paul - other countries, without Labour governments, experienced deteriorating public finances, why do you suppose this was? Could it be because there was a recession in the global economy sparked by a financial crisis, which caused tax revenues?

No doubt you Tories think that chanting "all Labour's fault" will make people forget that we are in this situation because of reckless bankers. It won't. Perhaps you Tories ought to reflect on why, despite our woes, you could not win a parliamentary majority...

I think it's because a great many people remember for example, that under the Tories there wasn't the police service that exists today.

More Cuts said...

Absolutely terrible we have lost he schools rebuild and are losing bus travel at anytime and now Police (or PCSO) jobs didn't slimey Cameron promise not to cut front line services, and while we are on about promises what of the Fibsters and their VAT pledge.

Labour were not perfect Paul you are correct, but this coalilition is ripping the heart out of the Country and for what? a "quick fix" why is it many of the top financial experts say there is no need for this knee jerk swathe of cuts and it can be still done with the right plan over a slightly longer time.

In the past Paul I have agreed with many things you have said but on this I must agree with James, the greedy bankers are to blame..yes of course withthe complicity of NuLabour this is why we need to get back to Olde Labour.

It is clear to the man in the street the Coalition is a disastor who are made up of equally worse liars than Gordon Brown et al.

No party won with a majority so had to sell their soles to the Fibsters, should the election be held again next week after all the broken promises, school building cuts, council cuts, bus cuts and now Police cuts, just who would vote Fiberla again, and as they did not vote Tory to start with they either abstain or give Labour under a new leader who ever it maybe(you are right Brown was a terrible leader and not well liked, he should not have been allowed to lead)a chance to sort this mess out at a sensible pace!

Mike Barker said...

Ian, you misunderstand the nature of coalition government, which is that all parties in a coalition have to compromise to produce stable government. That means the Lib Dems accepting a VAT rise (something, I might add, that Darling wanted to impose too) while the Conservatives accept some of our policies, such as those concerned with civil liberties, for example.

Compromise and accommodation are not signs of weakness, nor are they indicative of one party or other selling their soles (sic), they are a necessary part of achieving stable government when no one party has an overall majority.

I note that you accept that this scale of cuts is needed ("it can still be done...over a slightly longer time"): you simply disagree with the speed with which they are being introduced. Darling was proposing £44bn of cuts himself, by the way.

The argument against starting the cuts now, rather than waiting a year, was because of fears of plunging the economy into a double-dip recession. So far there is no evidence that this will happen.

The Government has concluded, having seen the real state of the nation's finances, that the only way to avoid the country being held to ransom by the bond traders and other ne'er-do-wells in the city, and being forced into taking Icelandic or Spanish-style measures, was to start the process of reducing the deficit now.

Ian, you would still have lost your free bus travel, your school building programme and all the other cuts which are going to have to be made: you just wouldn't have had them imposed so quickly under Labour (so they now tell us!).

Yet to wait a year might well have plunged the public finances into a hole so deep that today's cuts would seem a pin-prick compared to what might have been required later.

I believe, and I've knocked on more doors than you in the past couple of months, that the public do understand that this action has to be taken. Far from being seen as a disaster, the Coalition is being seen to be doing the right thing. None of us like it, but the dire economic situation demands it.

james said...

Mike, the ne're-do-wells in the City were pleased by your party putting the Tories back in office - precisely because they did not want to carry the weight in terms of paying for the recession they caused.

No evidence for a return to recession, Mike? What kind of message does it send to investors that the government is cutting tax incentives for manufacturing, cutting support for jobs and businesses?

What do you suppose will happen to consumer demand, a driver of economic activity, once the VAT rise is introduced?

Anonymous said...

@ Mike what of the Conservatives making fun of the Fibs openly in public does this not concern the party or Clegg?

@ James I agree the ne're-do-wells in the City are over the moon. The more I look into this debt, it is harder to actually find out where it is as it appears not to physically exist but be on paper only. Also no one has answered the question yet, that if the banks borrowed the money why are they not paying it back?

Why are all the Coalition so frightened of a Robin Hood tax?

I am sure the voters at the next (hopefully soon) general election will prove who was right with their approach to these savage cuts.