As I am sure members will know, our Council Tax will be increasing this coming year, leaving us, as the 6th biggest economy in the world paying more for less. Also we are now seeing volunteers increasingly used to run our public services such as our libraries. So what of the future under this right-wing government? Today, as you will be aware, we are faced with huge cuts in the provision of rural public transport. In an attempt to counter these cuts, volunteers are increasingly being sought to overcome the fact that many elderly Council Tax payers in our villages will become increasingly isolated and cut off from friends and relatives.
Of course if you live in an urban area such as Westminster, in which so many of our MPs have accommodation, there is one of the most efficient public transport services in the country. Even so, in Westminster last year, the Council Tax for a Band A property was only £448.50, a Band D £672.74 and a Band H £1345.48. One only has to compare these Council Tax figures with our own, to realise that austerity now begins in the countryside, not in Westminster.
The same situation now also faces our Youth Centres, and members who attended our last Branch meeting will have heard the sorry story from both Mike Byatt, a Dorset County Councillor, and three young members who use the service. Here it would seem that whilst some youth workers will be retained, a considerable number will be made redundant given that the County Council have to make cuts totalling £1 million from its youth budget of £2 million. To counter this, a sum of £200,000 is to be made available for the whole of Dorset to set up groups of Trustees to run the system. However, for Bridport that is only part of the problem given that the local Youth Centre uses the accommodation provided at the Bridport Youth and Community Centre. This in turn means that it is not only the Youth Centre that is under threat, but quite possibly a number of other community groups. They are as follows:
The Music Centre and the Bandits Motor Project as well as the Bridport Boxing Club. For small children there is the Fizzy Boppers club for under 5’s and also the well supported Jelly Bean Toddler Group. The Electric Café provides after school activities for young people aged between 11 and 15 as well as on Sundays the Bridport Music Theatre for those aged over 14. The Youth Club is opened on two evenings between 7.30 and 9.30pm and is open to young people aged between 11 and 19.
However, it would seem that the decision to make these cuts was made by the Dorset County Council Cabinet, which calls into challenge the power that this small Cabinet has over crucial decision making. It is also claimed that these cuts were a matter of public consultation, but looking at the Council papers that makes this claim, it does not seem to have been widely known about. I wonder why?