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County Lib Dems Highlight Concerns over Budget Proposals

January 8, 2014 3:51 PM

PRESS RELEASE

Immediate release

08th January 2013

County Lib Dems Highlight Concerns over Budget Proposals

On Tuesday the Tory-run County Council unveiled the draft budget designed to massively reduce spending over the next four years. Budget

Leader of the Opposition Simon Galton said, "We welcome some of the savings, such as improved tendering through e-auctions, a more effective and efficient placement service for vulnerable children and accept that several grant programmes such as The Big Society are no longer affordable.

However the Group has major concerns about some of the proposed reductions which we will be highlighting during the next few weeks."

Subsidies for the "Meals on Wheels" service are going to be removed altogether which will double the price for 300 users of the service. While users will still have access to the service, Councillor Michael Mullaney is concerned that the higher price may cause some to lose out.

Michael said, "Some of the more vulnerable rely on this service as they are incapable of organising their own meals. If the price is doubled then there's a risk that they may end up going without.

If funding is removed we need to put in place a different mechanism to ensure that these people get a good meal each day."

Brown BinThe draft includes proposals to remove "Green Recycling Credits" - funding given to borough councils to collect green waste. This would require them to either charge residents the full cost or reduce the service. Hinckley and Bosworth Leader Stuart Bray is concerned that this could be a false economy.

Stuart said, "As well as inconveniencing residents, if this caused people to put green waste in their rubbish bins, the County Council could end up paying even more to dispose of it that way, especially with the extra Landfill Tax.

Leicestershire has one of the best recycling rates in the Country and it makes more sense to encourage people to continue recycling."

The cuts include a £2.1 million reduction on 'Early Help' services that try to tackle emerging problems for children and young people as soon as possible. Dr Sarah Hill is concerned that cutting back on this service could cost us more in the long run.

Sarah said, "Early Help services tackle problems that would be more expensive to deal with later on. Reducing this service would not only deprive some young people of the help they need to get on in life, it could also lead to us paying even more in the years to come!"

The draft budget also proposes to make an additional cut of £1 million to street lighting over the next four years. This is on top of the £0.7m made so far. It is expected to go beyond dimming and switching off lights after midnight to total blackouts in some areas.

Transport Spokesperson David Bill said, "Dimming lights is bad enough, but leaving some areas pitch black is a step too far. We are aware that ambulance services have complained that pitch black areas significantly increase the time it takes to reach their patients."

Council Tax is also set to rise by 1.5%. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Conservative Administration to accept a government grant rather than raise the tax. Council Tax

Finance spokesperson Keith Lynch said, "The Coalition Government is offering the County Council an extra £2.4 million a year to ease the burden on Council Tax-payers. It makes no sense to instead take this money from Leicestershire Council tax-paying residents!

We're calling on the Tories to accept the government grant this year rather than raise the Council Tax."

They suggest that any further money needed to fund the freeze could come from the £2 million set aside for the City of Culture bid which is no longer needed.

The draft budget will now go through processes of scrutiny until it is decided at a Full Council meeting on 19th Feb.

Cllr Simon Galton

Mobile: 07952 916358

Email: simongaltoncc@gmail.com

Daniel Henry

Political Assistant - Liberal Democrat Group

Tel: 0116 305 6064

Email: daniel.henry@leics.gov.uk