Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire - A Tale of (two very different) County Councils

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire County Councils have many things in common that are not just about geographical proximity.

Up until June 2009 both councils had been Labour run for a very long time and both then became Conservative controlled following the June elections. In Nottinghamshire they are proposing cuts of £28m to balance their budget, however, in Derbyshire they have identified they only need to make efficiency savings of £6.12m.

Obviously if job losses or service cuts happen this is not good. But in the scheme of things this is a modest amount given the size of the overall budget, and it is small compared to cuts being made by Notts County Council.

What a contrast!

We've said before the Notts do not need to make these cuts as we've identified for them over £28m of "easy money."

Unlike Notts, Derbyshire have not taken the irresponsible decision to freeze Council Tax, they are raising it by a modest 1.5%.

The council has estimated the General Fund Reserve (they can spend this on anything they want) to be £30m to £35m which is quite a high amount relative to the overall spend of the council. So they have "money in the bank" to protect services in future years.

Derbyshire have shown that there is at least one Conservative council in the region that is not reckless with its approach to protecting vital services. The worry is that Derbyshire are the exception rather than the rule, as we've reported previously about savage cuts being made by Tory run Leicestershire and Northamptonshire County Councils.

Will the approach at Derybshire change after the general election? Given what is going on in Tory councils around the country, sadly it probably will.

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