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Council Budget: Labour make the wrong cuts

April 3, 2012 8:02 AM

The current economic environment does not allow the Labour Party to tax and spend as they have generally done in the past - often recklessly. This year they were forced to make some cuts. The result will be a reduction in some services and an increase in many costs.

Clearly savings had to be made, but the Lib Dems proposed a series of budget amendments which would have meant no charges for brown bins and no reduction in the Park Ranger service. We would have cut far less from the Neighbourhood Services budget. To help pay for our proposals, we would have cut the council's energy bills, got rid of a hugely expensive senior management post and cut the money which the council pays to fund trade union activities.

North Jesmond Councillor Catherine Pagan commented: "Imposing a fee for garden waste collection is an extra charge on those who want their garden waste to be collected for composting instead of dumping it into landfill. Why put an extra tax on people - many of whom are retired - who are doing their best for the environment? Many people will undoubtedly stop using the service."

Councillor Peter Breakey said "Losing Park Rangers is unnecessary and unwise. The Rangers don't just keep the parks tidy and safe, they work to control invasive species, like knotweed, and to protect wildlife. They also support many volunteer rangers, such as those in Jesmond Dene. This voluntary work makes a huge difference and is now in jeopardy. It's disappointing that all the Liberal Democrat amendments were rejected - apparently purely for reasons of party politics."

Councillor Peter Andras added: "Many residents were surprised to learn that the council pays the wages of people who are working full-time for a trade union. We are not opposed to union representation in the workplace, which is often beneficial, but should Newcastle's council tax payers be subsidising union reps? In 2010/2011 the total bill was over £400,000.

Unfortunately, as long as the trade unions continue to be its financial life support system, the Labour party will be unable to consider this issue objectively."