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What do you do when you take over a council and find out that its finances (which have never been good at the best of times), are in the direst of straights….?
What do you do when planning your first budget, your first real mark on the town, to find that your administration has to come up with over £4 million from a £16 million budget in 6 months?
Quit? I have to be honest it went through our my mind. Run round screaming and shouting, yes I did a bit of that too.
Then my mind went to that recently rediscovered poster from WWII “keep calm and carry on”. So typically British and at it’s root so typically Conservative.
Ok we had a budget that because of misuse and abuse by previous Labour and Liberal led administrations was in dire need of fixing, we had a budget that because of government meddling and dishonesty from “flash” Gordon was deteriorating fast. But good conservative principles HAD to come to the fore.
And that’s what we have done, and that’s what our budget later in February will deliver. There will be tough decisions. Not everyone will be happy.
But I have a Choice…. I can either do what every other Council Leader has done for years, nibble round the edge of the budget and not really touch the problem, trying to push it away to be dealt with by someone else.
Or I can bite the bullet and put the council’s finances on a sound financial footing once and for all and give us a chance to start again. It’s not a pretty choice, and as a politician in a town with elections every year, I understand why previous leaders have not had the guts to deal with the problem. I have to. I love my town, and I want it to get better, so I have to give it it’s medicine.