More action on climate emergency, disabled parking and help for voluntary sector - Liberal Democrats amendments to Newcastle City Council budget published

March 4, 2020 4:12 PM

Newcastle Civic CentreAmendment One: Brexit and the Climate Emergency

Changes to be made to Page 34 of 6a, Appendix One - Revenue and Capital Plan


Split Brexit and the Climate Emergency into two separate categories. Classify the Climate
Emergency as an investment, and remove it from the list of "cost pressures".
Retain £500k for Brexit-related cost pressures, as originally described. Allocate an
additional £500k to the Climate Emergency, for a total of £1m, to ensure the Climate
Change Committee has sufficient funds to implement necessary, urgent actions.
Costs to be met from the Transformation Reserve, and to be repaid through revenue
generated by the implementation of a Workplace Parking Levy in future years (see
Amendment Two).
Note: Presenting Brexit and the Climate Emergency together as a cost pressure does not
recognise the very different nature of these two external challenges. If only one fund is
provided for both, then it is possible that additional, unexpected pressures in one area may
unnecessarily constrain urgent needed action in the other. The Opposition believes it
would be far clearer to present the two challenges separately, to recognise that the Climate
Emergency is a positive policy decision, not a cost pressure, and to fund each appropriately
and separately.


Amendment Two: Workplace Parking Levy and an Earmarked Climate Reserve


Additional Lines to be Added to Item 6a - Shaping Our Future Together


Add a Workplace Parking Levy to the Budget proposals, with work on implementation to
start immediately. This is not anticipated to have an impact on the budget for 2020-21, and
would be cost neutral. Indicative figures suggest a surplus of £1.4m in a full financial year,
based on modelling a similar implementation to Nottingham.
Primary legislation would be required, following consultation with the Government. Add a
commitment to lobby for provision to use revenue generated on Climate-related projects.
Add a commitment to repay funding provided from the Transformation Reserve for the
Climate Emergency (see Amendment One) though revenue generated, over an appropriate
time frame, and thereafter to establish an earmarked Climate Reserve to support the
Council's goals relating to the Climate Emergency.
The earmarked Climate Reserve is to be set aside for longer-term capital investment in the
City's response to the Climate Emergency. If primary legislation requires expenditure on
transport infrastructure, the commitment would be to explicitly target adaptations and
improvements that would address the Climate Emergency.
Note: The Opposition recognises that a Workplace Parking Levy may be unpopular at first,
but in cities where this has been implemented, residents have quickly accepted it, and the
additional funding generated have been able to be re-invested in much-needed transport
improvements. The Opposition believes this is in line with public commitments from the
Administration regarding the Climate Emergency.


Amendment Three: Blue Badge Parking Charges


Additional Service Proposal to be added to 6a Appendix Two - Summary of Service Proposals


Add a deferral of the implementation of blue badge parking charges in the City's car parks
through continuation of a recruitment freeze in the service (£90k, self-funding).
Note: The Opposition remains fundamentally opposed to the implementation of punitive
parking charges on disabled residents and visitors to the City. Despite being informed
during last year's budget discussions that there were no possible options but to implement
this swingeing cut to support, the Administration have been able to defer implementation
for an entire year by freezing recruitment in the Service and making vacancy savings.
Given that the Government has only provided a single year's financial settlement for local
government, and greater certainty on long-term funding is likely for the next financial year,
the Opposition believes that pressing ahead with this damaging decision is premature. It is
harder to reverse a decision of this nature than to defer. The likelihood of a sufficiently
generous financial settlement from the Government may be low, but until greater certainty
is established, the Opposition believes this move to be unnecessary.


Amendment Four: Newcastle Fund


Changes to be made to Service Proposal 28, 6a Appendix Two - Summary of Service Proposals


Amend the service proposal and reduce the cut to support for Community and Voluntary
Services to £55k. Costs (£145k) to be met from the discontinuation of the Great North City
Fund, and the reallocation of the funds to more pressing priorities.
Long-term sustainability of this additional resource for the Newcastle Fund to be assessed
alongside a line-by-line review of funding available for communities, skills and
employability, and ward budgets.
Note: The uncertainty created by cuts to the Newcastle Fund - only to be reversed as was
the case this year - is an unreasonable burden on the Community and Voluntary Sector. The
Opposition remains committed to meaningfully supporting our vital volunteering
organisations.
The Opposition questions the efficacy of the Great North City Fund. With minimal funding
remaining, and no projects allocated at this stage, the Opposition believes that the Council
has more pressing priorities and that funding should be reallocated