Whoever wins the local elections in May will face four years of difficult and politically costly budget cuts and/or increases in service charges and council tax.
The Tories have cynically (and cleverly) avoided saying what they will do in the next four years, only what they will do for this election year - offering bribes of 30p per week if you own a car and 20p per week to other c. tax payers. They have also limited job cuts now by borrowing £11.5m from reserves - so jam today and go to hell tomorrow.
The Tories are offering voters a job for another year with the cost being even more job cuts next year after the election. Cynical yes, but clever because it might just help the Tories hold on to power. But even better for the Tories, it places the Green and Labour opposition in a dilemma. Do they oppose a tax cut, parking permit cut and a budget that saves people's jobs for one year?
If I was the Greens I would propose a council tax freeze next year and promise to cut even less jobs by using the reserves as the Tories are and this extra revenue. I would argue that cutting council tax and parking permit charges is irresponsible in the present climate.
If I was Labour I would argue along similar lines but keep the car permit cut (as they are more pro-car) and extend the free swimming scheme to more than just under 11s. Notice that the battleground ward of Moulsecoomb+Bevendean contains a leisure centre - this maintaining of free swimming for under 11s is a direct play for votes in that ward from the Tories, very clever. I hope people see through the cynical Tories who will just bludgeon services if they get re-elected. Only a Green/Labour administration will avoid targeting the cuts at the poorest, the Tories just look after their wealthy car driving vote in the suburbs.