Putting bud­get cuts in con­text

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

FIRST can I thank the hun­dreds of par­ents who have given their views [about home-to-school trans­port] at re­cent meet­ings. I think it’s fair to say we have had a frank, hon­est and some­times heated ex­change of views.

I cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate all the con­cerns raised. How­ever, the re­al­ity is that I can­not af­ford to fund this ser­vice to the gen­er­ous lev­els that we did pre­vi­ously.

As we’ve set out in our re­cent bud­get con­sul­ta­tion, next year, across all ser­vices we’ll have £28mil­lion less to spend. We’ll aim to cover this by mak­ing £16m in sav­ings but that still leaves a £12m gap to close. Th­ese are big num­bers and it means tak­ing ex­tremely tough de­ci­sions.

This is the back­ground con­text as to why we are chang­ing home-to-school trans­port routes and in­creas­ing fares. If I didn’t have to do it I wouldn’t, but hope­fully par­ents will start to un­der­stand the rea­sons why.

For this to be a sus­tain­able ser­vice, it needs the in­creased in­come from fares, it needs the fur­ther sav­ings that we can drive out and it needs the fur­ther ser­vice im­prove­ments we can still achieve. I and Amey, our trans­port provider, will con­tinue to do what we can in the com­ing months to achieve a safe and eco­nom­i­cally vi­able so­lu­tion for all.

I make no apolo­gies for say­ing we are hav­ing to make sav­ings in home-to-school trans­port as we are in other coun­cil ser­vices. I don’t ex­pect all par­ents read­ing this let­ter to wel­come that, but I hope I’ve man­aged to give the con­text. I’d also en­cour­age ev­ery­one to re­spond to our lat­est bud­get con­sul­ta­tion on our web­site – www.buckscc.gov.uk/ about-your-coun­cil/fi­nance/bud­get/ bud­get-con­sul­ta­tion/ – which is open un­til Novem­ber 9.

MIKE AP­P­LE­YARD Cab­i­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion

and skills Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil

READER John Nor­rish took this photo of rain­drops glis­ten­ing on a spi­der’s web.

Mr Nor­rish, from Chal­font St Peter, said: “The spi­ders had been busy on the beech hedge and the rain looked like pearls on the webs.”

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LISA SNOW­DON Tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter

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