The Island needs an Entrepreneurial Council
Ahead of this evenings full council meeting there has been much talk of the need to cut services and reduce cost. However, there are always two ways to reduce a budget deficit cutting back is one, but the other is to increase income. In the UK many council's around the country have taken up the challenge of reduced income from central government by increasing funding from other sources. The Local Government Associations terms these councils "Entrepreneurial Councils". The Local Government Association also highlights best practice of an Entrepreneurial Council on their website at http://www.local.gov.uk/futurewaysofworking.
On the Island, the main talk of income generation has been about whether or not to re-introduce charges for floating bridge foot passengers. This may or may not be a good idea, but it certainly will not generate the millions of pounds required to fill the deficit.
However, to really make a difference to council's income including the Isle of Wight Council, a council would need to follow the examples of best practice in this area, as highlighted by the LGA case studies, see LGA: Income Generation.
One of these council case studies is Eastleigh, where I have been a councillor for the past 13 years, until this May*. In Eastleigh, we have managed to keep income below inflation for the past 12 years and cope with a cut in Central Government Grant by increasing our property investment portfolio, so that the extra income from that property investment has offset the Central Government Grant cut.
If I am fortunate enough to be elected as MP in May, I would use all my experience to help all I can to transform the way the council does its business. The aim would be to have a council that can both deliver the first class public services Islanders deserve, keep the council tax down and reduce the Island's dependence on central government grant. This is all possible, if the council can adapt some of the best practice ways of working to the Island.
*I am standing down from all my mainland council seats to contest the general election on the Isle of Wight.