Labour’s cuts unnecessarily harsh and damaging

March 7, 2012 1:01 PM

At the city council meeting on Wednesday of this week Liberal Democrats will propose:

  • Maintain free brown bin collections (478k) - it's unacceptable that they are putting on a £20 charge, and a very unpopular "stealth tax"- it will result in tens of thousands of people not using the service (as they told us last year) and a big fall in the amount that we are able to recycle.
  • Restore 50% of the cuts to neighbourhood services - 550k. How can they make these big cuts to the teams that work in our neighbourhoods maintaining grassed areas and shrubs, carrying out graffiti removal and street cleansing and so on. It's a loss of 43 frontline staff - and it must be mitigated. How can this contribute to "decent neighbourhoods"
  • Restore the cuts to the mobile library service (72k), to rangers/park keepers (289k) and to bowling clubs and other leisure services (150k)
  • Remove the 50p increase in Meals on Wheels charges (38k), remove the cut to the dedicated post and budget for fair trade activities (42k) and restore the budget for public toilets in Percy Street and Paddy Freeman's (20k)

To be funded by:

  • Savings on energy, waste, water, road fuel and business travel costs to a level consistent with being a council that aspires to be Europe's Green Capital. "Cut energy not jobs and services" A 7.5% improvement in energy/utility/travel bills would give us about £1.2m saving for every year. Lots of organisations including central government have managed 10%.
  • Closing customer service centres for one day per week. There are times when they are not very busy.
  • Taking out of the budget the 170k put back in by the administration for 6 neighbourhood wardens (who have not yet been appointed after nearly a year)
  • Restructuring of office/post of Executive Director Regeneration and Environment and direct reports - workload has decreased as some responsibilities have been moved elsewhere - for example economic development and area-based regeneration (or what is left of it)

Also: we will propose adding to the budget 175k for up to ten new apprenticeships and 60k for two part time planning posts to help councillors promote and develop the localism and neighbourhood planning agenda in their wards - to be funded by returning the both the staffing level in the Leader/Labour offices and the cost of allowances for cabinet members and deputy cabinet members to no more than under the previous administration; and by further cuts to the cost of trade union facility time so that all full time union staff are paid for by the unions themselves and not the council.

Councillor David Faulkner, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Leader of the Council said: "Despite the size of the Government cuts and the financial pressures on the council, they have been able to achieve over three quarters of the savings needed through efficiencies and only £5m cut in services. This is testimony to the sound financial position that was inherited from the previous Liberal Democrat administration, and the transformation programme for the council started in 2009 that has provided the basis for huge savings and established new ways of providing and managing services."