The biggest challenge for 2015 will be how the Council deals with the massive cuts to its budgets that have been forced on it by the Tory led government.
It is a truly horrendous situation. Having just managed to deal with £87m cuts over the last four years we are now faced with another £96m cuts in the upcoming four years, a massive total of £183m. So far we have found £53m of the £96m but these proposals contain some heart breaking decisions and we still have nearly £43m to find by April 2019. We still need to find another £26m to meet our savings target for 2015 and of this money £8.6m must be found by mid February if the Council is to balance its budget. My hope for the year ahead is that we can mitigate as much as possible these horrendous cuts, balance the budget and freeze the Council Tax for hard pressed residents. A hard task but I am confident we will succeed.
I received a Christmas card that said on the front 'all I want for Christmas is a cinema in Ealing.' I couldn't agree more and hopefully 2015 will see real progress in delivering a new cinema and cultural quarter in the heart of Ealing. The Council served a compulsory purchase order on Empire Cinemas, the current owners of the site, last summer and spring 2015 should see the holding of a public enquiry to determine that CPO. Hopefully the inspector will find in the Council's favour and we can then get cracking on building the cinema with our partners Land Securities and Picturehouse.
Finally 2015 sees the General Election being held on Thursday 7th May and I'm hoping and confident that Ealing will elect three Labour MPs and we will have a Labour government. Happy New Year.