'We have not got all the answers' - warning as cabinet set to discuss £17m budget cuts

The Northern Echo: DIFFICULT DECISIONS: Councillor Chris McEwan DIFFICULT DECISIONS: Councillor Chris McEwan

Senior councillors in Darlington will publicly discuss the implications of having to make millions of pounds worth of further cuts to balance the books for the first time tomorrow (Tuesday, January 15). Since the extent of the cuts required was revealed last week, dozens of people have commented on the issue on The Northern Echo’s website.

AHEAD of a discussion that could shape public services in Darlington for the next four years, a senior cabinet member has admitted: “We have not got all the answers”.

Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet will discuss the authority's medium term financial plan (MTFP) for the coming financial year to 2016/17 at a special meeting, needing to identify savings of £17m in that time – ahead of the £24m in cuts it has already made since 2010.

Councillor Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “It is an extremely challenging situation.

“Public services in Darlington, in the short and medium term, will never look the same again.

“What we must do – and this is critical – is do what we can to protect vulnerable people and keep what we can.

“That will be difficult and require a number of difficult choices to be made.

“We have not got all the answers and it is incumbent on us [as a council] to have a dialogue with the people of this town about how we take things forward.”

Cabinet members are being asked to approve a raft of measures, including the MTFP itself and a budget to include:

• A two per cent council tax increase for 2013/14;

• The use of nearly £4m from revenue balances to fund the savings required in the coming financial year;

• The transferring of £1.5m from revenue balances to the redundancy reserve fund.

The cabinet will also be asked to receive a report on ways to cut the costs of how the council operates at a future meeting, as well as approving the approach to developing further cuts.

Last week, when the report on the MTFP was published, council officials warned that nothing was safe from the axe.

Since then dozens of people have commented on the issue on The Northern Echo’s website.

Gamechanger wrote: “We all need to tell our councillors and our MPs that playing politics with our lives and our communities has got to stop.”

1234user added: “It is all too easy to blame 'the government' for the cuts.”

The cabinet meets at 5pm, tomorrow, at the town hall.

Comments (10)

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5:21pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Spy Boy says...

"We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses.

What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.
"We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses. What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

6:31pm Mon 14 Jan 13

oliviaden6 says...

Spy Boy wrote:
"We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses.

What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.
Like where your coming from, but realistically do you ever think that these top boys will ever relinquesh anything. It is always the low paid and the shop floor that bears the brunt of any cuts. Shame on these self centred greedy buggers!
[quote][p][bold]Spy Boy[/bold] wrote: "We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses. What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.[/p][/quote]Like where your coming from, but realistically do you ever think that these top boys will ever relinquesh anything. It is always the low paid and the shop floor that bears the brunt of any cuts. Shame on these self centred greedy buggers! oliviaden6
  • Score: 0

6:31pm Mon 14 Jan 13

oliviaden6 says...

Spy Boy wrote:
"We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses.

What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.
Like where your coming from, but realistically do you ever think that these top boys will ever relinquesh anything. It is always the low paid and the shop floor that bears the brunt of any cuts. Shame on these self centred greedy buggers!
[quote][p][bold]Spy Boy[/bold] wrote: "We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses. What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.[/p][/quote]Like where your coming from, but realistically do you ever think that these top boys will ever relinquesh anything. It is always the low paid and the shop floor that bears the brunt of any cuts. Shame on these self centred greedy buggers! oliviaden6
  • Score: 0

7:01pm Mon 14 Jan 13

stevegg says...

Having lived in the borough most of my life, I know from experience that the council only pay lip service to what the public want, they will already have a very good idea of what cuts they are going to make despite what they say. A 2% council tax increase is the maximum they can impose on taxpayers without holding a public referendum (thankyou eric pickles for that) otherwise it would be guarunteed to be in double figures. As has been stated over and over and appears in step with the majority of public opinion, its long overdue that the layers of high paid senior executives and middle management should be cut back, its ridiculous that the lower paid workers are being made redundant but these gold plated jobs are left untouched. Were all in this together does not appear to apply to these people who will protect their own interests above all else.
Having lived in the borough most of my life, I know from experience that the council only pay lip service to what the public want, they will already have a very good idea of what cuts they are going to make despite what they say. A 2% council tax increase is the maximum they can impose on taxpayers without holding a public referendum (thankyou eric pickles for that) otherwise it would be guarunteed to be in double figures. As has been stated over and over and appears in step with the majority of public opinion, its long overdue that the layers of high paid senior executives and middle management should be cut back, its ridiculous that the lower paid workers are being made redundant but these gold plated jobs are left untouched. Were all in this together does not appear to apply to these people who will protect their own interests above all else. stevegg
  • Score: 0

7:57pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Lifetime Townie says...

The council cabinet should have got the message by now that we know that they are only in it for themselves. From the top down we know that their jobs are safe along with the golden pensions and other perks. These forums have been running for months in N Echo but we haven't seen any reduction in hierarchy. Take the projects that the public don't want like wheelie bins, Darlo together propaganda mag The public know that we can't afford them but they are still imposed on us. Why, it's because the councillors who are supposed to be looking after us and our town are playing politics with our council tax and services. What about the services that the public do want like kids nurseries, rural bus services, public toilets and other essentials that the council tell us that we can't have. It looks like Darlo council versus the government with the residents to pick up the tab for the expense. We voted them into the town hall and this is what we have got! - massive debt for years to come. Sack the lot and start again with loads of common sense! I hope you and the rest of your councillors read this Coun. McEwan After all this could be a challenge for the cabinet to give the public what they want or resign enbloc because the present situation is no good to us residents.
The council cabinet should have got the message by now that we know that they are only in it for themselves. From the top down we know that their jobs are safe along with the golden pensions and other perks. These forums have been running for months in N Echo but we haven't seen any reduction in hierarchy. Take the projects that the public don't want like wheelie bins, Darlo together propaganda mag The public know that we can't afford them but they are still imposed on us. Why, it's because the councillors who are supposed to be looking after us and our town are playing politics with our council tax and services. What about the services that the public do want like kids nurseries, rural bus services, public toilets and other essentials that the council tell us that we can't have. It looks like Darlo council versus the government with the residents to pick up the tab for the expense. We voted them into the town hall and this is what we have got! - massive debt for years to come. Sack the lot and start again with loads of common sense! I hope you and the rest of your councillors read this Coun. McEwan After all this could be a challenge for the cabinet to give the public what they want or resign enbloc because the present situation is no good to us residents. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Mackam says...

Spy Boy wrote:
"We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses.

What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.
Some of the higher echelons of our local government (Darlington) took voluntary redundancy and got out a couple of years ago with their healthy payouts and good benefits. They all new what was coming. If they had of stayed on their payout wouldn't be half of what they got. It was all about insider knowledge of what the council have planned. Need to know basis!
[quote][p][bold]Spy Boy[/bold] wrote: "We have not got all the answers." Well that's a fairly honest statement. That being the case, maybe the cabinet and chief execs should stand down and we can get someone in who does. We all know that it's going to be tough and that a lot of Council Employees are going to be hit. What we'd like to see is some spreading of the pain to the higher echelons of our local government. I don't ever remember seeing any news items about them being made redunant. With all the losses of personnel and services we certainly don't need so many of these over paid prima donnas, so come on DBC, show us that you are capable of fairness in your dealings. If we can get rid of two of the execs that must be a saving of £250,000 per year plus their expenses. What we need is a forum run by DBC on which we can ask questions and get direct answers to our questions. Bet we don't get one.[/p][/quote]Some of the higher echelons of our local government (Darlington) took voluntary redundancy and got out a couple of years ago with their healthy payouts and good benefits. They all new what was coming. If they had of stayed on their payout wouldn't be half of what they got. It was all about insider knowledge of what the council have planned. Need to know basis! Mackam
  • Score: 0

8:50pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Savant_NE says...

It's difficult enough when men can't find work in Darlington.Then your children can't find work.Now seeing the Council departments are 70%women, it will be whole families affected by the cuts.
The Central Government should put more resource that would generate employment and therefore revenue .
We cannot keep on this spiral of descent.Tees Valley has decent hard working people.We should be be "building for the future"not 'preparing for the worst' .
Even in this region there is a disparity between building project getting the go ahead in Tyne and Wear compared with Tees Valley.
Central Government policies seem intent on keeping us in a state of uncertainty, and thus a lack of consumer confidence, by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty.
Iknow there is no quick answer , but look at Hitachi , it's took the Government since 2009 to get it off the ground, and it's still 3 years away.Things need to be speeded up to get out of this mire.There has been years of talking on what Darlington Council are going to do .Its time to start making things happen instead of watching things happen,or just talking about what happened.
It's difficult enough when men can't find work in Darlington.Then your children can't find work.Now seeing the Council departments are 70%women, it will be whole families affected by the cuts. The Central Government should put more resource that would generate employment and therefore revenue . We cannot keep on this spiral of descent.Tees Valley has decent hard working people.We should be be "building for the future"not 'preparing for the worst' . Even in this region there is a disparity between building project getting the go ahead in Tyne and Wear compared with Tees Valley. Central Government policies seem intent on keeping us in a state of uncertainty, and thus a lack of consumer confidence, by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty. Iknow there is no quick answer , but look at Hitachi , it's took the Government since 2009 to get it off the ground, and it's still 3 years away.Things need to be speeded up to get out of this mire.There has been years of talking on what Darlington Council are going to do .Its time to start making things happen instead of watching things happen,or just talking about what happened. Savant_NE
  • Score: 0

10:16pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Gamechanger says...

This council house of cards is about to come crashing down. Politicians at all levels created this mess - bailing out feckless bankers, pandering to a public living on credit like tomorrow didnt matter, making benefits a lifestyle choice for those who see themselves as victims not citizens. The politicians must now take charge because its what they were voted in to do. Those at the very top of our community MUST stand together and fight to retain decent services for the rest of us. I for one wont stand idly by and see our beautiful fantastic town turned into a dump.

Wake up DBC, wake up councillors and get this mess sorted.
This council house of cards is about to come crashing down. Politicians at all levels created this mess - bailing out feckless bankers, pandering to a public living on credit like tomorrow didnt matter, making benefits a lifestyle choice for those who see themselves as victims not citizens. The politicians must now take charge because its what they were voted in to do. Those at the very top of our community MUST stand together and fight to retain decent services for the rest of us. I for one wont stand idly by and see our beautiful fantastic town turned into a dump. Wake up DBC, wake up councillors and get this mess sorted. Gamechanger
  • Score: 0

11:55pm Mon 14 Jan 13

ameliaS says...

You get what you vote for. Did you all vote? Did you vote for the party leading the Council? Your councillors are there to represent you. If you didn't vote at all - don't complain now. AND TELL THAT COUNCILLOR TO PUT A TIE ON!
You get what you vote for. Did you all vote? Did you vote for the party leading the Council? Your councillors are there to represent you. If you didn't vote at all - don't complain now. AND TELL THAT COUNCILLOR TO PUT A TIE ON! ameliaS
  • Score: 0

1:11pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Homshaw1 says...

ameliaS wrote:
You get what you vote for. Did you all vote? Did you vote for the party leading the Council? Your councillors are there to represent you. If you didn't vote at all - don't complain now. AND TELL THAT COUNCILLOR TO PUT A TIE ON!
I didn't vote for them but I'm stuck with the poor service and an ever increasing council tax bill

I'm no conservative but Pickles is right the council wastes moey like it is going out of fashion.

The management is dire. The councillors don't deal with problems - they just winge. Its not just people high up in councils that seem to have an easy life. It's built into the culture
[quote][p][bold]ameliaS[/bold] wrote: You get what you vote for. Did you all vote? Did you vote for the party leading the Council? Your councillors are there to represent you. If you didn't vote at all - don't complain now. AND TELL THAT COUNCILLOR TO PUT A TIE ON![/p][/quote]I didn't vote for them but I'm stuck with the poor service and an ever increasing council tax bill I'm no conservative but Pickles is right the council wastes moey like it is going out of fashion. The management is dire. The councillors don't deal with problems - they just winge. Its not just people high up in councils that seem to have an easy life. It's built into the culture Homshaw1
  • Score: 0

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