The Liberal Democrat group made a number of suggestions and proposals at the annual council tax setting (budget) meeting of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) on 23.2.2011. Speaking during the meeting, the Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr. Robin Parker C.C., was the only opposition borough councillor to make alternative proposals at the meeting.

Unlike the Conservative group, who had made a few suggestions within the last fortnight and then withdrew them all at or before the meeting, Robin Parker researched and made budget proposals during the year. This is despite the fact that, at an earlier important budget scrutiny meeting, the Labour chair of that meeting had denied Robin the right to ask relevant questions on the budget and called them “time wasting”.

Some of the suggested savings and other points raised by Robin at and before the budget meeting:

  • Save money by using Royal Mail to deliver SBC’s Chronicle magazine instead of paying council officials up to 17p a copy to do so – ACCEPTED
  • Deliver flyers for the Forums with Chronicle – ACCEPTED
  • Take serious action to reduce SBC staff sickness levels from 11.6 days a year on average (the highest of Hertfordshire local authorities) – ACTION AGREED BY EXECUTIVE
  • Savings on the social budget for Town Twinning civic receptions – BUDGETS HAVE BEEN REDUCED
  • Investigate sharing of planning, legal, leisure, refuse collection, street cleansing services to save costs – NO COMMITMENT TO DO THIS YET
  • The contract with SBC’s street name plate contractor needs re-negotiation, in view of the many errors the contractor makes in this work – NO COMMITMENT TO DO THIS YET

Cllr.Parker explained:

Unlike Labour who get unlimited time to speak on budget night, I am restricted to exactly 6 minutes, so how much I can say or suggest is severely limited” “However, I also said that SBC should be ready to take immediate advantage of expected interest rate rises to maximise investment income, particularly as inflation is likely to become a concern this year and also as various service contract renewal windows open, SBC should be ready to re-negotiate prices keenly.