Quite rightly we have been asked and challenged regarding our position on BCBC finance.
We are all independents and each candidate is also looking at their prospective wards for better spending decisions and canvassing their respective electors.
Also, unless we are elected and until we are able to have full access to the officers and “the books” it would be unwise to make rash statements on this key matter.
However, there are already settled common principles.
The Change for Bridgend Independent candidates are committed to delivering services at the best value for money. We recognise that BCBC doesn’t have its own money and its £250m net annual budget is funded by YOU. We will treat it with the respect it deserves.
The Council budget for 2017/18 has already been agreed but Independent councillors would represent their wards in collective discussions that would inform an urgent improvement review.
We recognise these are challenging financial times and difficult decisions have to be made as annual expenditure is reduced from £250m to £213m pa over the next 4 years but we promise to focus on what’s important and prioritise front line services.
We will spend your money wisely and we will spend it where it makes a difference.
We will not waste your money and we will not tolerate those who do.
We would develop a 5-year plan that outlines our financial commitments and ambitions over the course of the council between 2017 & 2022.
We will outline the anticipated council tax levels over the course of the 5-year plan and if we miss our targets we will explain ourselves to you.
As part of the 5 year plan we would seek outline target council tax levels. But we won’t make outlandish claims that we will NOT raise council tax, although we would aspire to keep increases at or below inflation.
We will conduct a thorough review of our physical assets and develop a rolling asset management plan to ensure that they are properly maintained, still fit for purpose and we get more out of what we already have.
Where appropriate and justified by the return we will dispose of assets and use the proceeds to invest in front line services.
Where appropriate we will invest in new assets that improve service delivery or improve operational efficiency.
We would also consider the transfer of responsibility for services to town and community councils if they can demonstrate that they can deliver them more effectively and efficiently.
We will review the level of reserves held and promise not to hold more than is prudent and certainly no more than the Welsh/UK average.
We will meet the “£37m” efficiency challenge through innovation and hard work.
We will do more for less not less with less.
We will instigate a 5-year innovation and efficiency programme that will identify better ways of working and smarter delivery methods.
We will listen to the people who deliver services, the people who know how to do things better and we will invite the public to participate, harnessing all the talents within the borough.
All existing contracts will be reviewed and where possible renegotiated to ensure better value for money. Where possible pending contract awards will be paused pending a review.
More robust contract management will be introduced to ensure that our contractors are delivering value for money and doing what we pay them to do.
We will clearly indicate the proportion of expenditure directly delivering front line services and that which provides back office support.
Finally, we have talked recently of introducing a levy on houses left empty more than two years. This is one example of where BCBC could, but are not, currently working hard enough to seek revenue.