[T]he £21 million bill Cumbria County Council has been left with in the wake of its legal battle with highways contractor Amey could have gone towards paying significant parts of its annual budget.
£21 million is a vast amount of money, so much so that it is hard to visualise the impact it will have on the frontline services the County Council is responsible for. Below is a list of 10 things that cost £21 million, to help illustrate the real impact this huge waste of taxpayers’ money will have on Cumbria.
- £21 million could have paid for:
- The annual budgets of 81 Cumbrian primary schools.
- The salaries of 944 full time teachers.
- 1205 teaching assistants’ salaries.
- 61 fire engines.
- The salaries of 71 firefighters for ten years.
- The cost to run all of Cumbria’s 48 libraries, all five of its Library links and its three mobile library vans for three and a half years.
- 8,400 brand new street lights.
- The salaries of 759 children’s social workers.
- The salaries of 75 youth offending social workers for ten years.
- 6000 new bus shelters.
This list helps put the County Council’s Amey debacle in a more relatable context. But the extent to which this bill will impact on the Council’s frontline services and the people who rely on them is still unclear. Particularly worrying is the fact that at the start of this financial year, the County Council needed to find an additional £15.4 million of savings in order to balance their 2017/18 budget.
It is not yet clear how the Council will cope with paying the £21 million bill, or how it will impact on their longer term spending plans. For instance, the Council identified in their most recent budget the need to spend £16,920,000 between now and 2022 in order to modernise their Health, Care and Community Services.
Speaking on this issue, John Stevenson MP said: “It is important Cumbria County Council ensures the vital services they fund and the people they employ are not adversely affected by their mismanagement of the Amey contract and the resultant bill they have to pay. The fact the Council could have paid the salaries of almost one thousands teachers with the money they have wasted demonstrates just how serious this issue is. I am particularly concerned about the impact this bill may have on the Council’s efforts to balance their budget, and their longer term spending plans. Necessary projects such as the modernisation of our county’s Health, Care and Community services must not be allowed to suffer as a result of County Council incompetence.
“It is also important that we establish, in the interests of openness, transparency and accountability who really was responsible for the decisions that were made. I will be writing to the Council accordingly.”