I am writing about Hampshire County Council's budget consultation.

I have noticed that all these wonderful local papers have not given much space or copy to this very important issue.

Basically, it cannot carry on making the savings that have haunted it for so many years!

Its options for the future are fairly limited - do they keep putting up the council tax to meet particularly the demands of all of us getting older - bearing in mind that all of us also pay income tax to HMRC already - so you get it both ways on this option.

Or do they carry on slashing away at valued services or "redesign" them for the future?

A crude summary but please bear with me.

This is a wonderful county - it is beautiful and the council over the years has made sure that its country parks, libraries, museums and numerous other services remain well-organised and are sustainable.

Innovative means of managing them like trusts have been successful and delivered savings.

But the consultation reveals the need to find even more cash in the future! A seemingly impossible task.

When trying to explain to a recent resident arriving from abroad who does what in local government even I, who has lived here most of my life, got confused.

When you add all the government agencies, NHS, Local Enterprise Partnerships and other publicly funded bodies it gets even more confusing.

All these organisations have their own infrastructure, buildings, staff and important responsibilities - some of these are national bodies that work locally - no doubt many of these functions could be run by local councils? But I digress.

Getting back to local government in Hampshire it is commonly called "two-tier".

Why does this need to continue - if for example like Cornwall we could have a "unitary county" saving the need to support the infrastructure of so many councils. 

This is far more effective than slashing away at our public services. 

If planned and done over a few years, the obvious stress on staff could be eased.

Most importantly council taxpayers will have just one council to deal with.

The more difficult issue as various national governments have found is how to deal with all of us getting older and living longer.

This is not an easy one - but one thing that could help is if the NHS and local authority care came together into one organisation. 

Clearly, much more needs to be done including us paying more for our care - but it must be tackled.

I have one last plea - please county and local councils remember Oscar Wilde's famous quote about "the price of everything and the value of nothing"!

John Stanley KC

Johns Avenue


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