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The Bristol Cable

Listen: Bristol Unpacked on a £23 million gap in the council’s budget, with Craig Cheney the councillor holding the city’s purse strings

After 12 years of central government imposed austerity, that purse is much smaller than it needs to be.

Listen: Bristol Unpacked with Neil Maggs

Now as the council is planning for the new year’s budget they need to fill a £23 million sized hole in the finances. With the threat of cuts and sales of council assets, Neil and Craig discuss the challenges of local government finance and what that means for Bristolians, whether so-called ‘town hall fat cats’ should take a cut and if the council are getting the best deal from Bristol’s status as an increasingly attractive and wealthy city.

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  • It’s not all about money but how one spends this wisely or not. Same as in any household. Reduced and sometimes inadequate services do not help. The Authority should pay high salaries but only where there is a real meaningful and transparent benefit to the citizens of Bristol and the City. By raising Council tax will only hit households and the economy and what for reduced services. Officers should return to their offices and benefits such as expensive cars for top officers must be stopped as they are of no benefit to the citizens. The Mayor and Labour Group must scrutinise all top salaries and benefits and also whether some services are worthwhile at all. Cost Benefit Analysis is urgently required and in every service.

    We need more workers on the ground where they are needed and less forums which ultimately achieve very little
    Blaming Governments is just not good enough because they are not going away and demands on the public purse is becoming bigger.

    There are many things this Council can do and if they do not know this questions must be asked.

    At the moment it is less like a unitary authority more like different companies within looking after their own backyard. There is no cohesion and who suffers – the citizens of Bristol from all backgrounds especially the poor, homeless and those who are mentally ill and the unemployed. But this has been spoken about for years and little is done – just more talking and meetings.

    Top officers must go out and have a look and not keep on saying put in a complaint which at Bristol is more than daunting with what is in place at the moment. There is a way that the Council leaders can have it’s finger on the pulse in this situation and not hard to fathom.

    The Authority must have a strict regime for expenditure and divert resources where needed.

    Nothing wrong with the Mayor’s ideas but please do the basics first especially on service delivery on which a structured platform can support such projects as the Mayor is advocating.

    But how many times has this been said and raised and little or nothing is done.

    We need creativity, determination and problem solving- not on profiles and CVs but where the public and the City are effected. If not it is going to get worse and the trend will be irreversible to the detriment of all.


  • A proper think about the car parking levy sounds like a sensible idea. But it’s an idea that’s been on the table for over 2 years already. With the constant delays to the CAZ, I feel this is just another “kick the can down the road” situation.
    As an alternative to encouraging corporate investment into the city, has Bristol Labour considered following the Preston Model? If they have, I’d love to know if they’ve taken anything from it, what bits they’ve rejected and why.
    As for the adult social care issue, it has been known about for years (see “the Barnet graph of Doom” circa 2012). As has the solution: getting people to be more active throughout their lives. Unobstructed pavements and protected, joined up cycle infrastructure would go a long way to achieve that. Unfortunately, the current administration don’t seem willing to do what is necessary to make that happen: i.e. communal bins, RPZs and protected cycle lanes on arterial routes.
    All that said, I liked Craig Cheney calm and considered answers to Neil’s questions. And it was another excellent interview. Thanks to all involved


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