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Cutbacks overshadow good work, says council leader
A CONTROVERSIAL plan to cut at least £90 million at Worcestershire County Council has “overshadowed” the good things it continues to do, according to its leadership.
Councillor David Thain, the cabinet member with responsibility for change, insists most residents do not care who provides a service, as long as it is high quality.
As your Worcester News first revealed last month, the authority is examining departments across the board to see what can be handed to new providers.
But he insisted the ultimate aim is to “focus on better outcomes” for taxpayers.
BOLD, which stands for Better Outcomes Lean Delivery, will last till at least 2015/16 and is aimed at shedding at least £90 million from spending, although bosses now suggest it is likely to top £100 million.
Coun Thain said: “BOLD is continuing to meet its targets and there is no doubt this council will be a very different one in 2016 and beyond.
“We are having to deal with issues in a very different way, but the primary focus will remain that we are ‘open for business’ when it comes to investment.
“Embedded in the county’s psyche is the fact we still have to look at the bottom line – we are well aware of our responsibilities.
“We are still focused on better outcomes, that is our aim.” As part of an effort to promote what services the council still provides, the corporate plan is being relaunched in January.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “I’m sure some people might think it an odd moment to refresh the corporate plan as we are heading into an election in May.
“But we do need to refocus on it and refresh our aims on a reasonably regular timescale.
“I do have concerns BOLD has overshadowed the corporate plan, because we do have much higher aims than just delivering savings – we are still an ambitious council.”
A report published last week cited the plans for a Worcester Technology Park off Junction 6 of the M5, Malvern Hills Science Park and faster broadband are just three major schemes being driven forward at County Hall.
The technology park suffered a blow in September when Worcester Bosch pulled out as the anchor tenant, but efforts are ongoing to secure a new main business.
A week after Worcester Bosch pulled out the county council still agreed to accept £18 million from the Government to get the park off the ground.
If full it will create 3,000 jobs.