FORWARD planning is an element you expect to be built into most businesses and policies.

Yet, somehow, a £450,000 shortfall for Bolton Council has been caused by a slightly higher national pay rise for local government workers. Now, the knock-on effect is likely to be a cut in local council services.

Contingency planning is always considered when pay rises are on the cards, and we find it hard to understand how any council can be caught short in this way.

Departmental budgets will, no doubt, now be under careful scrutiny. The electorate, however, will be keeping an equally close eye on where the "savings" need to be made -- and so will we.