04/10/2015 Leave a comment
There is much talk about Devolution in the air in Local Government at the moment, locally much of the time and energy of Councillors and Officers is focused on the emerging Norfolk and Suffolk Bid. At the heart of it is a proposition to government to allow us to have a greater impact on our local economy working alongside the New Anglia and Greater Cambridgeshire and Great Peterborough LEPs and the business community to create more high value jobs, grow the Business Rate and improve our local public sector system including how we work in a more integrated way with the county’s health care services. All of which is about how can we do more with less, how can we protect front line services by having a more joined up approach to Suffolk and now Norfolk and Suffolk.
Whilst this is the focus as we seek to meet the Government’s deadline for submission, the other thing that looms large on our horizon is the coming council budget round. We all await the CSR but are under no illusions that it will bring anything but tough new saving targets for Local Government. So last week my SCC Cabinet Member for Finance and myself travelled to Horsham to attend a LGA Finance course, to look at budget setting and ways to find even more savings from the Council’s budget, there is always something to learn in any walk of life.
Of course Devolution is never far from Councillors minds and in the conference room I sat next to Jonathan Bacon, who is the Leader of Isle of Wight Council, so inevitably we spend a fair while chatting about Devolution as the rumour has it that the IOW Council and Hampshire County Council are going to be successful in their bid. So as much as Richard and I tried to concentrate on the discussions during the course of the two days on finance, Devolution was never far from the table.