When a money-saving proposal to close the plant-growing greenhouse nursery at Botanic Gardens came before a Sefton council cabinet meeting,  the Liberal Democrats suggested that the operation could be taken over by the staff as a "workers co-operative" and for every help to be given to the team to run their own competitive private business. This positive opportunity, which was agreed, has not been so far reported in any of the news media and therefore is not widely known

We really hope that this will be possible and save the operation.  The meeting was informed that it was cheaper to buy-in plants from other suppliers.

This was just one of a string of cost savings - small and large - that had to be considered, all of them very difficult.

But Britain is hugely in debt.  The last government spent money it didn't have. The "national credit card" debt is now equal to £22,400 per person.  The debt interest payments are a staggering £120 million a day.  Whatever government was in power, it would have to cut government spending and reduce our national overdraft. 

Like all councils throughout the country, Sefton is facing a reduction in the amount of taxpayers money that it gets in grant from central government.  This grant is crucial.  It pays for threequarters of what Sefton spends.  Our local council tax provides the remaining 24 per cent.

It's forecast that Sefton will have to cut a £227 million budget spend by approximately 26% over the next three years - a total of over £58 million. For next financial year 2011/12, the estimated required savings is £38 million, a 17% reduction. 

Action has been taken already.  Staff cuts have been achieved, including the departure of a raft of top and middle management with a new lean management structure.  This alone has achieved a 2011/12 budget saving of more than £2.5 million.  Salaries have been frozen and discussions are taking place regarding staff terms and conditions.

The Botanic Nursery was one of more than fifty cost-saving/efficiency measures put forward at the recent meeting, altogether affecting the jobs of more than 120 council staff.  These included cuts to numerous education support services; library book purchases/opening hours; overtime reductions; Splashworld opening hours and staffing etc.  These amounted to £5.2 million of savings. Councillors with special responsibilities have already voluntarily taken a 5% cut in their allowances.

But it's estimated that £27.6 million more of savings are still needed to balance the books for a council budget which has to be set in February next year.  The Government is expected to announce the details of its grant for Sefton during December.

Thanks to a specific "Freeze the Council Tax" Coalition Government grant already announced, there will be no increase in Sefton's council tax next year.