Whilst the Judicial Review Judgement went against the Cabinet’s decision to change the funding arrangements for nursery education, the case was lost due to issues associated with the process adopted: no challenge was brought on the basis that the decision itself was an unreasonable one.
Our decision proposed adopting a similar level of nursery provision as that provided by other local authorities in Wales.
With regard to the terms of the judgment, we have not yet received the written transcript. Until we receive this, neither I or the Council are in a position to make any definitive statement on the findings of the court.
However, I can confirm that I have instructed officers to present a detailed report to Cabinet in mid June which will include:
-A consideration of the judgment, noting that the current nursery admission arrangements will continue to apply from September 2014
-A Cabinet proposal to Council to reinstate a balanced budget and deal with the impact of UK Government Cuts.
-Consideration of how Cabinet can now approach the continued funding of nursery education in the County Borough. At this stage, nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out.
We accept that very necessary decisions on service changes have been, and will, inevitably, continue to be, unpopular with the public. I have to stress that any proposals for service changes we have taken, and will need to consider in the future, give neither me nor the Cabinet any pleasure; the severity of the UK Government’s funding cuts mean we have to reduce the level of service offered by the Council.
As a politician and new Leader, it would be easy for me to engage in a popularity contest like other Councillors have sought to do on this issue. This approach would not, however, fix the £60M budget gap we face because of public sector funding cuts over the next three years.
We are charged with running this Council and have a statutory duty to maintain its financial integrity. I remain disappointed by the approach of opposition Councillors who continue to disagree with every proposal, yet fail to present any alternatives to bridge the massive funding gap caused by public sector funding cuts made in London.
The date for the Cabinet Meeting which will consider this matter will be confirmed as soon as possible.