Shopping for ideas in this case. Ideas to make sure that while the rest of the country struggles with the Council spending cuts announced today, our Council finds creative ways to use the very strong financial position of Basingstoke to minimise the pain. We learned today that our Council will be expected to cut our spending by at least 1.8% next year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when we account for the fact that some spending is mandatory and ring-fenced, it is inevitable that some services will be cut. Or is it? Our Council is one of the richest in the country in terms of investments with over £130m in assets. And that’s before we take into account the value of land owned by the Council. Some estimates suggest that by selling Manydown to be used to meet our housing needs could realise close over £300m. So we are sitting on assets worth nearly half a billion pounds! Surely now is the time to think creatively about how we use some of that money to ensure that services needed by many of our residents are not cut. Programmes for the young, old and ill could be protected. Unlike the last national government that spent prolifically during the good times and refused to ‘save for a rainy day’, our local Administration was smart enough to build up a valuable savings account. Given the state of our national debt, which is still rising every year (although a lot less than it was), it is clearly going to be raining for some time in terms of money the national government has available to spend on services. So now is the time to reap the benefits of being one of the wealthiest Councils in the Country. I hope the smart people who saved for a rainy day, are now out and about shopping for ideas to help protect the services that make Amazingstoke one of the best places, as well as the smartest places, to live.