BCP stripping public services – an open letter to the council

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Councils have been facing a growing funding gap since the Conservatives came into power in 2010. It is estimated that one in ten councils face bankruptcy. The government has just announced the first increase in funding, following this protracted period of austerity, but councils maintain that it is still not enough to meet rising costs and the growing burden of social care. BCP Council achieved notoriety under the previous Conservative regime and the successor coalition now faces the challenge of managing their legacy.

This reader feels that desperate times call for desperate measures. Ed

Dear Editor,

It really is mind-boggling, isn’t it? We pay a fortune to our council for public services only to find out now that this year BCP council is all but bankrupt and this predicament is to be managed with a massive cut in public services.

BCP Massive cuts in public services.

[NB: the consultation process closes at 23:59 20 December 2023]

Savings will be made not by a cut in salaries and allowances for council staff and councillors, or a large scale cut in the number of councillors, but by hitting public services in our residential areas.

So excuse me, BCP council leaders, but is it not the practice in the business world when a business goes down to cut salaries and cut staffing numbers? The last thing you cut is the business services you are supposed to be providing.

And of all the cuts how on earth can the council put services like food standards, hygiene and safety, environmental health, animal welfare, noise and anti-social behaviour complaints, and community officers on the line?

How shocking and terrible beyond belief.

I submit to BCP Council that either council halve the number of councillors, or cut councillor allowances to cover necessary costs and no more, as it was up until the 1990s when councillors received £10 a week to cover travel costs; not as it is now, with a salary of £12,000 a year, irrespective of time and work put in.

And whilst shedding expensive part-time councillors, the council could also close down their hugely expensive marketing department. How can we have a council closing down food standards, animal welfare, and Health and Safety for the general public, but think it’s fine to keep running a self-promoting marketing department?

It’s terrible beyond belief. Truth is, it is the Tories (not least recently under Drew Mellor and Phil Broadhead – WCV BCP Saga 11th September “Significant weaknesses in council arrangements” ) who have, in the main, run the local councils of Poole, Bournemouth, and Christchurch, over the years, and then, from 2020, the combined BCP council. This is clearly where the burden of responsibility lies. We can cite, for example, the hugely expensive Imax disaster ten years back, costing the council many millions in wasted money.

As a consequence, I do feel sorry for all the other parties now in the coalition, dealing with the legacy of many years of financial waste and mismanagement.

But more leadership and decisive action is now needed, not less: not fiddling around the edges and having “consultations” on what is all too often the staggeringly obvious. Council needs to cut their costs of “being in business” and that means allowances, the number of part-time councillors, officer salaries and perks, and departments that have no critical necessity. 

If BCP’s seventy-five councillors accepted they are part-time volunteers and accepted basic allowances to cover actual costs that would then save council close to £1m a year: a far larger saving than any of the other proposed cuts in public services.

The exception is the cabinet that needs ten members. These could be elected, full time, and on a salary (not unlike the police commissioner). Professional council leaders. Put an end to part-time councillors and all the party politics. All too often, parties are doing no more than neutralising each other and costing us all a fortune… to the point now where our council is bankrupt.

And don’t we know it! Just look at the dreadful state of infrastructure, not least our jammed, falling- apart roads, and all the other public services we have lost and are losing.

Jeff Williams


Do you have a view on this? Please write to: editor@westcountryvoices.co.uk.