Liberal Democrat LogoLiberal Democrat county councillors proposed an alternative to the ruling Conservative group’s budget, at the council tax setting meeting for Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) in 2013/2014, at County Hall, Hertford, on 26.2.2013.

Local Chells, Stevenage, Liberal Democrat county councillor and borough councillor, Robin Parker, spoke in the debate in favour of a string of Liberal Democrat amendments.

Predictably, all the Liberal Democrat amendments were voted down by the Conservatives, following which the main opposition Liberal Democrat group voted against the majority Conservative budget.

The tiny Labour minority group proposed no amendments, read out a rambling wish list with no costings and voted against the Liberal Democrat amendments.

The Liberal Democrat amendments were fully costed and they would have resulted in no change in council tax rates. Identified savings would have balanced extra spending on priority issues.

In particular, Robin Parker spoke about amendment items 2, 3, 4 and (c) – see list below.

He said: “I have received more complaints about the street light switch off (part night lighting or PNL) and lack of gritting outside schools than on any other issue. Our proposals would allow each county councillor to leave some or all of the street lights on in his/her division. It is nonsense to say that this would cause chaos. Currently, footpaths away from roads can be left lit all night if the local county councillor wishes it (as I do in Chells, Chells Manor and Mobbsbury). Some other county councillors do not. This does not cause chaos – so why would a similar arrangement for street lights not be possible?”

“If you really believe in Localism, you should support our amendments.”

“I also strongly support our proposed saving on HCC publicity. It is absolutely ludicrous that council taxpayers are footing the bill for thousands of unnecessary press releases on each of our Locality Budget items of spending. We are quite capable of writing our own news releases.”

“Although the Conservatives have kept council tax frozen, which we support, the point needs to be made that this has come at the cost of major cuts in street lighting at night, the service standards for street light repairs and other highways repairs, library hours, availability of staff for the public and threats of cuts in school road crossing patrols.”

“Our proposals have no net cost and are an attempt to make life a bit better for our residents.”

Liberal Democrat amendments:

Amend agenda item 7 (b) (iii) – Integrated Plan – to

Amend the revenue budget to increase expenditure in 2013-14 as follows:

£000

1 Invest a further £13m for improvements to highways repairs, £2m of which to be allocated to double the spending on footways, and including a further £10,000 allocated to each member’s highways locality budget

13,000

2 Give local members discretion to cut back the planned part night lighting implementation by up to one-third

1,250

3 Revenue cost of additional lighting as above

600

4 Provide salting outside selected schools on non-presalted routes and additional salt bins and supplies

900

5 Start up support for east-west express coach route

450

6 Expand the county council’s apprenticeships scheme

160

7 Provide a business advisor to help Herts citizens in business start-ups

40

8 Additional Fire and Rescue Service LIFE courses for young people

30

9 Protect the current number of School Crossing patrols

35

10 Restore some support for non commercially viable  but socially important buses

400

11 Extend the saver card to up to 19 year olds

360

Total

£17,225

 

To be funded by:

£000

a Projected revenue surplus of £22,600k as at Q3  less carry forward anticipated of £4,600k and less interest and cost part repayment of £16,200k being £1,800k

16,200

b Further improvements to procurement, including highways and capital schemes

500

c Reduction in corporate publications, publicity and staff

200

d Further reduction in management posts and better use of existing buildings

200

e Reduce motor mileage costs

125

Total

£17,225

Additionally, £60,000 to be found from within the Adult Care Services’ and Children Services’ budgets to provide for additional resource in the Money Advice Unit, to provide advice and support particularly around the many changes to housing and other benefits, benefit appeals, debt relief orders, and homelessness.

END