28 Jun

If a Japanese of Samurai rank was found to have committed a blunder, rather than resign he had to kill himself. This ritual suicide was called Seppuku not Hara Kari, as this is a slang expression for slit belly. If the man was of a higher rank such as a War Lord or Prince, he was allowed the service of a Kaishaku. One has to remember that disembowelment is a very slow and painful death, often taking hours, and so the rich and powerful were allowed to have themselves beheaded to shorten their suffering. It was considered very undignified if ones head rolled across the floor, and so the Kaishaku was chosen for his sword mastery so that he could deliver a single blow and sever the head except for a small flap of skin at the front.

George Osborne is not a Kaishaku. He is not a master of the cut. He has got a whole load of people shoving him in various directions so he may well miss the target altogether. The one thing he has managed to do is to hack a massive hole in the budgets of Local Authorities. This is doubly unfair because as a first attempt to reduce Government spending, the policy was to palm off duties normally carried out by Central Government onto the Councils. This was accompanied by a tight grant fund, on the basis that if you are careful and efficient you can provide the services with this money. If you are profligate, it will not suffice.

However, the money was not distributed on the basis of greatest need, but rather on how far you were away from Westminster, and how likely you were to be swung to vote Tory. Cornwall has always done very badly on the distribution of central funding, getting less per capita for Schools, Hospitals and Police than other similar sized Authorities.

Mebyon Kernow were very quick off the mark to condemn the cuts. Leader Dick Cole has calculated that the original cuts plus the additional 10% cut announced in the latest Spending Review means that Cornwall will have a grant shortfall of £546 million by 2015. Even before the Spending Review, the Council admitted that it could not meet its Adult Care budget, and further front line service cuts are bound to follow.

To a certain extent, Cornwall Council has tried to pull the same trick as Central Government. Things such as public toilets have been passed down into the care of the Parish Councils with the accompanying costs. These include a business rate charge against the toilet, and a previously contracted cleaning and maintenance regime that causes most Parish Councillors eyes to water. There have also been funding cuts to Parish Council for services such as grass cutting and cemetery upkeep, and this has become apparent in the way that some villages are looking neglected.

Is all this inevitable? Should we just be tightening the belt even further on the basis that if we hang on things will get better? I see no sign of it. I just see the same old policies at Lys Kernow but in Trumps. The mantra goes that it takes a long time to put a plan, a strategy, a policy into place, and if at the time it has gone through the mill, it comes out unfit for purpose and costing a fortune, all the Councillors can do is to wring their hands and say it can’t be altered now. During the administration before the last one, in other words more than five years ago, two major policies were put in place that have turned out to be absolute disasters. One is Newquay Airport, and the other is the Incinerator. The thing that makes me despair is that the two Councillors who were in charge of these projects, incidentally, neither of whom lived or represented an electorate anywhere near the scene of the shambles they created, have managed to get themselves re-elected onto the Council. It looks like both of these mistakes are going to cost Cornwall about £30 million a year and rising. However no one up at Treyew Road seems to be able to find the stop button.

The only thing they can do is to talk about cuts.


One Response to “Kaishaku”

  1. charlesboney June 30, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    OK fine to rant but what would you actually do about it? In your second para you go on about unfair past funding for schools. One thing that the coalition government is doing (presumably you support this?) is to have a common funding formula for all schools which will help Cornwall as we are significantly under the average. Chairs of Governors such as myself will be able to make decisions locally without Truro grabbing too much by top slicing; similarly the services they supply (SLAs) have to be competitive otherwise I’ll get the grass cut by someone else.

    There is still huge inefficiency in this Council. Have you ever tried getting Estates and Legal Services to sort out a simple land problem? Have you ever tried getting a Statement sorted for troubled child and fought with the plethora of different professionals, departments, and procedures?

    Having had my little say, I agree that Government up there has a way of issuing diktats from on high without real knowledge of implementation down here, so your solution? Put up taxes and carry on feeding inefficiencies? (there’s an election winner). Wholesale privatisation of services?(bring back Kevin!) Declare independence for Cornwall? (ah, MK forgot about that one) … or perhaps just make the existing system as efficient as possible with Councillors from all parties challenging the culture of OKB – Officer Knows Best

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