I was shocked, but not surprised, to see the scope of the cuts proposed by Gateshead Council for next years budgets. Not surprised because at Northumberland Council, where I am a councillor, we have already been taking action to make highly unpleasant but necessary cuts. It's because the central government, who councils depend on for two thirds of their income, is strapped for cash after bailing out the banks, unnecessarily cutting VAT and subsidising foreign car construction through the scrappage scheme.
Unfortunately its front line services that will suffer with big cuts projected in areas such as flower displays, street cleaning and even maintenance of bridges!
However, I would make the point that the Council can't point the finger at who's to blame for much of this. That's because its their own party, Labour. Blaydons Labour MP has been merrily voting for all the spending increases but this government is happy for councils to take the flak on cuts.
This will be Labour government cuts by a Labour council. If the Tories were to get in at the next election, I predict the local council will be much more vocal about where the blame lies for cuts but I would call on our Labour MP to try to relax his governments cuts on council budgets and cut the many wasteful schemes they have been squandering money on in the good times.