Councils across the country face another difficult year – the Tory-led Coalition has cut too far and too fast, the economic recovery is in danger of stalling and high street retailers are closing down as consumers rein back on spending. Rex Osborn gives his view on the challenges facing Wandsworth:
‘Everyone understands that in difficult times, there are hard choices to be made about Council spending. If Labour was running Wandsworth, we would have to find the same level of savings that the current administration seeks – the difference would be in how we did it.
As leader of the opposition on Wandsworth Council, I am not taking the easy road of simply opposing every cut that the majority party puts forward. Instead, my colleagues and I want to demonstrate that although savings need to be made, they can be made without having to jeopardise frontline services: education, public health and community safety.
Wandsworth needs to look for savings through innovation – new technology and new ways of running council services, such as the co-operative model, which is being introduced to save other councils money around the country. It needs to reduce the Council wage bill, rationalising some of the Council’s highly paid senior roles. It needs to explore more opportunities to share costs with other London authorities.
We would not put the well-being of our children and young people at risk. Protecting schools, youth centres, libraries and ensuring that playgrounds remain free for all to use would be top priorities.
We must also protect those who need care like our elderly residents – and we must remember that family carers need time to get to work and play their part in the economy too.
Wandsworth has to be a secure place to live, work and invest – with safe, clean streets, safe parks and prosperous businesses.
Cuts should be made in a planned way that is fair to residents, commits to our young people and stays focused on the future prosperity of the whole Borough.’