SCRATCHING his grizzled head deep within his sett, Badger was troubled. The Welsh Government had announced a 3.8% cut to funding to Pembrokeshire County Council.
When Cllr Adams and his band of brigands cast their eyes about Pembrokeshire where – oh where! – would they espy the opportunity for more service cuts to be made? Where would Adams’ axe fall next? Library projects had been shelved; rubbish collection services binned; the lowest paid, toiling in Bryn’s salt mine, had their wages slashed; public toilets had been shut; street lamps turned off.
Let’s eliminate where savings won’t be made. Pembrokeshire County Council will continue to pay over the odds for those unable to find work in the private sector. In order to get the cream of local government mediocrity, Pembrokeshire will pay its senior officers eye-watering salaries based on a fundamentally flawed wage-fixing system. In order to sweeten the devastating shock of having to relocate to Pembrokeshire (the perils of the mean streets of St Florence, Tavernspite and Tufton are particularly troublesome in this regard), there will be relocation allowances and the chance to avoid tax on a blue chip pension.
And that’s all right.
Now the other way to address less money coming in from outside is to raise more internal revenue. That means raising money from you and from me.
Pembrokeshire’s council tax figure – trumpeted as the lowest in Wales – will almost certainly have to rise, simply to tread water and keep services where they are now. In addition, the Council might look at raising the tax it charges for people to shop in Pembrokeshire’s town centres. That means a hike in car parking charges. Hard-pressed small business will probably be squeezed for more money. Capital assets will be disposed of to meet revenue shortfalls: or as it’s commonly called – the economics of the madhouse.
And that’s all right.
The Council relies upon the great gravy train of European money continuing. Large dollops of euro-money to grease the wheels of commerce and investment.
That money will be misspent on funding big ticket vanity projects to attract visitors to a place where ordinary working people cannot earn a living wage. Property developers will be invited to build hotels in public spaces to attract those looking less to experience Pembrokeshire than to have “the Pembrokeshire Experience”. Perhaps instead of boutique hotels, we will have boutique towns awash with genuine “Olde Craft Shoppes” and tea rooms with doilies and hand-crafted pilchard sandwiches. Or perhaps it will be spent on putting metal benches in town centres, so despairing drunks will have somewhere to vomit after a night on the sauce.
And that’s all right.
A good source of savings is to tackle inefficiency and waste.
The Council will ask people for ideas on how the Council can save money and then ignore the ones they don’t like. You know, the ones involving cutting Councillors’ allowances or senior officers’ pay. Schools, community centres and arts schemes which are the hubs of their local communities will be subject to fake consultations about their future when decisions to close them have already been secretly made. There will exciting online surveys and lots of information about how YOU can help the Council be leaner and more efficient by not asking it to do the things for which you have paid Council Tax.
And that’s all right.
Badger was troubled. He sat scratching his head deep within his sett. From where could the money be raised?
Perhaps some of the Councillors themselves could be asked to help out. Badger does not doubt that literally tens of people could be counted upon to back IPPG Cabinet members to take part in a sponsored silence. The IPPG are used to keeping things quiet. A nod, a wink, a handshake: no need to disturb the natives. Keep calm, carry on, look the other way. That’s the Pembrokeshire County Council tradition.
And that’s not at all right.