Do you remember those childish riddles we loved as kids? When is a door not a door etc.? I was reminded of them when I saw this week's statement from Cheshire East proposing a five per cent increase in Council Tax to make 'savings' of £100M in the next three years.
When is a 'saving' not a 'saving'? This riddle would not fool any kid beyond the reception class and it won't fool taxpayers. When Kellogg's put up the price of corn flakes they don't call it a 'saving' they call it a price increase.
In most companies 'savings' are achieved by reducing costs and overheads. Not so Cheshire East who seem to regard increasing Council Tax as some kind of cost control exercise.
In February 2015 CEC made this statement via their own website:
"Cheshire East is planning to freeze Council Tax for the next two years – while increasing spending on services for vulnerable adults and boosting investment on roads and infrastructure.
The authority today (February 26) voted to freeze Council Tax for a fifth year running in 2015/16.
Cheshire East Council Leader Michael Jones also revealed the authority's intention not to increase Council Tax in 2016/17
Government grants have reduced substantially since 2009, leaving many local authorities facing 'gaping holes' in their accounts. Councils have also taken on more responsibilities, such as public health and Council Tax support.
But Cheshire East Council has responded swiftly and robustly.
With no new planned borrowing in 2015/16 and external debt being reduced by a further £8.5m, Cheshire East now has less debt than it did when it was created as a unitary authority in 2009."
So what went wrong? How did a council that had no need to increase council tax in 2016/17 claiming their finances were in better shape than ever suddenly need an increase 250 per cent above inflation?
We didn't hear a peep about budgetary shortfalls from CEC when they were doling out outrageous pay-offs for senior mangers. A mite odd don't you think that a council so free with it's largesse to departing executives should suddenly be handing round the begging bowl.
Equally baffling are CEC statements justifying this proposed increase.
"We will maintain a focus on the 'quality of place' in the borough, which will enable our economy to grow."
Does anyone outside of the council chamber have any idea what that actually means?
It would be quite funny if it wasn't from the Leader of the Council spending the money.
Margaret Thatcher famously said, "The problem with socialism is it eventually runs out of other people's money (to spend)."
I doubt she imagined it would be true of a Tory council.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of wilmslow.co.uk.
Photo: Councillor Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council.