At the Budget-setting meeting at County Hall on Tuesday 25th February, the Conservative-run county council rejected an alternative Liberal Democrat budget that would have provided for an extra £9m to improve road, footway and cycleway maintenance.
The Conservatives also rejected the Lib Dem proposal that would have provided for £3.3m, part funded by a
central Government grant, that would have put in place a Winter Recovery Programme to deal with the effects of the recent flooding and provide for some flood relief works and effective gully cleaning.
The Liberal Democrat budget, which was supported by the Labour group, also provided for money to turn back on some residential street lights, reversed cuts to Rights of Way, Countryside Management Service, school crossing patrols, bus services and also allowed for salting outside schools, extended the bus saver cards to 19 year old and provided for more apprenticeships.
Paul Zukowskyj , Lib Dem County Councillor for Hatfield South and Spokesman for Resources, said, “Our budget had been costed and checked by officers, was financially sound and also froze the council tax while making use of some unexpected underspends the Council has, cutting the councils massive press and publicly budget and motor mileage costs and using some of the now very large capital receipts the council has received.
“We wanted to support local residents real needs. Our roads are atrocious, cuts to public footpaths will make them worse, loss of bus services will make it even more difficult for people to get jobs, and our young people desperately need help into jobs through apprenticeships. Our budget would have delivered all of these”
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said, “Our budget allowed for additional expenditure of £15.45m on vital services that residents have said in public consultation they wanted protected or enhanced. It allowed for harmful cuts to be stopped. Above all it was paid for by making reductions in non front line services, like senior staff costs, reducing security costs, reducing the £4m spent on press and publicity and using government money on offer for to deal with the effects of the winter floods, and using some of the millions in capital that is going unused.”
The Liberal Democrat budget was defeated with all the Conservatives voting against it whilst Labour councillors backed it.
In the final vote on the Conservative budget only the Liberal Democrats voted against.
Stephen Giles-Medhurst. ” I was surprised that Labour did not vote against the Conservative budget that cut services to residents that Labour themselves complained about.
“Only The Lib Dems had the courage to stand up and say these were cuts too far!”