Making the cuts less painful

AFTER a long career in business, Ivor Davies has his own views on Calderdale Council’s proposed budget cuts - and he doesn’t always agree with the council on where the necessary savings of £65 million could be made.

Mr Davies, who attended the budget cuts meeting at Rastrick High School on Thursday, has put his views in writing to Calderdale Council leader Janet Battye.

He calls for a reduction in the number of councillors, the immediate scrapping of ‘Calderdale Call’, the joint publication produced by the council and Calderdale Primary Care Trust, and the elimination of non-essential expenditure.

Mr Davies, of Healey Wood Gardens, said: “I’m an ordinary council tax payer and I have my own views on where savings can be made - and they don’t include cutting school crossing patrols and other essential services.”

Here are some of Mr Davies’s main points:

Better ways of working/flatten management structure: There is much repetitive mention of this but little detailed evidence such as what is the total saving, how many management positions are to go etc.

Councillors to take a 5 per cent reduction: Fifty-one councillors are too many! Are cabinet members’ allowances also to be reduced? Are any reductions planned to excessive senior staff salaries?

Council staff overtime to be reduced: This should be eliminated. Calderdale MBC is not short of staff.

Reduce non-essential expenditure: Only reduce this? Surely non-essential expenditure must be eliminated.

External consultancy fees: Have these costs ever been publicly mentioned during the entire process so far? What are consultancy costs anticipated to be in the financial year 2010/11? What is the council’s plan concerning use of external consultants?

‘Calderdale Call’ is to go but only at the end of next year: What is there about this useless joint publication that prevents its immediate cessation? Why must this wasteful expenditure continue as we wait for the demise of the PCT? The Safer and Stronger Communities Directorate now produces a newsletter to help justify its own existence. This is a good example of the non-essential expenditure Calderdale MBC says it is trying to eliminate.

Sharing costs - £1m saving in 2012: Where does this figure come from? Sharing grass cutting with Pennine Housing is a good idea but sharing major management or administration services with other local authorities needs care.

Centralise training personnel in HR: Calderdale MBC have been trying to achieve this since December 2005 - five years so far and there are still up to 46 employees to be centralised.

Who controls the cost reduction programme?: This must be the Chief Executive, of course, but will the individuals responsible for achieving each saving be known? Will progress be measured each month and published monthly?

n Your views on what should stay and what could go are important. Send an email to stephen.firth@brighouseecho.co.uk