Keeping Positive Despite the Financial Gloom
Yesterday, along with a few other Cornwall Councillors from the West, I met with a the Leader of the Council, John Pollard, and the recently appointed Chief Executive, Andrew Kerr.
As with all the meetings that predict the future money that the Council will have to spend on the things people need, want and love, it would have been very easy to come away thoroughly depressed. The apocalyptic headline that has been rammed home to Councillors is what savings of £196m look like. The whole of the Council pay-bill, with oncosts, is £206m. By 2018/19 we will have around £12.5m for everything else besides Children’s Services and Adult Care and at the moment we are almost spending the £196m on those things.
So how am I keeping positive? The Penwith Pioneer project, which we are part of locally, has the key to giving us a better way of helping people as they get older and have more complex health needs. The pilot project in Newquay showed that by Health and Social Care merging and tapping into the best of our local community spirit, those involved in the project felt much better. When the project was explained it was just common sense of starting with the individual and asking what they wanted their future to be like and then helping them achieve their goals. It helped change the attitude of professionals, who can get bogged down with treating a set of symptoms. Staff working in the pilot found that it made their jobs more worthwhile. People (often called patients) became more active and engaged in their local communities and it all cost less money.
The other thing that keeps me positive is the local community spirit and the wonderful and diverse characters that make our community. There is the emerging group of ‘Friends’ to St Just Library. Whilst I wish we could have stopped the planned reduction of hours, I think that we will all pull together and a Library Service we can be proud of will continue. There is Bosavern Community Farm, where thanks to all the hard work of many local people, over several years, it will very soon be owned by the local community. As a community we will have a resource that will mean that local people can learn and get involved in producing fresh, healthy food locally. If you have not been down there then pop along on Saturday (29 March) between 10 and 3 p.m.
Around and about St Just and Pendeen the best things are run by local people, not the Council so, whilst it will be sad to see what the Council does reduced I think the creativeness of local people will win out and we will work together to ensure that the apocalypse is avoided!