As I write this, the news is sinking in following on from the announcement (that was of no surprise to most people) from the coalition Government regarding the Building Schools for the Future Programme.
There will inevitably be some disappointment from parents, teachers and pupils from schools in different parts of the Borough. This difficult decision is not an isolated one and will not be the last. Whilst I wish that it was not necessary for there to be a reduction in capital spending, I feel a sense of pride that conviction ideas and politics has returned to Government and that we have a Government is that is able to explain why tough and unpopular decisions are required. The current coalition inherited the largest deficit in our peacetime history. Such a position is unsustainable. The Labour Party had already pledged a 50% cut in all capital spending and would not make any firm promises to protect schools capital spending. I fear that they will be silent about this in the less pressurised role of opposition.
On the Council front, where Conservatives locally are now at the other side of the fence (or Chamber), Borough Council recently debated and approved the Statutory Statement of Accounts for 2009-10. What the report showed is that there are improvements needed but as compared to 2006, the new administration has inherited a Golden Legacy and this is only possible because of decisions taken by the previous administration, especially to launch the Performance Improvement Programme, which delivered nearly £50 million in cashable savings. The outcome was that it was possible to keep Council Tax down and make new investments in key areas.
The next Borough Council Meeting is on 20 July and the Conservative Group has tabled three questions about the promises made by Labour at the recent Local Elections. It must never be forgotten how important the role of opposition is in any democracy. At the same time, Conservatives on Hounslow Council will be a more responsible opposition than what I have seen from the Labour Party at a national level in response to the need for tough decisions.