Labour’s hopelessly misjudged Council budget proposals are set to be approved tonight. Cuts to all front line public services are planned yet
Labour also intend to retain a £1 million a year “slush fund” which is used to pay for a range of inessential “vanity” projects.
The £1 million this year has been used to pay for lighting and firework displays, free WiFi access in the City centre, a plan to open the Bonding warehouse as a “digital media hub”, building design competitions, an “innovation catalyst” programme; not to mention the occasional foreign travel trip.
More waste is evident in the Councils capital programme where commitments to introducing an unnecessary Citywide 20 mph speed limit and the purchase of a barge for use as an arts centre have seen interest payments, on borrowed money, double since Labour took control of the Council.
Abandoning these “vanity” projects and making good use of the reduced running costs (down by £375,000) of its new HQ would allow the Council to restore many of the most damaging cuts.
Labour’s key proposals would see:
• A 1.9% hike in Council tax levels (despite central government offering to underwrite the costs of a freeze)
• Privatisation or outsourcing of leisure/swimming pool management the Warden Call service and the “Sheltered housing with extra care” service. Even the Mansion House will be commercialised
• Grants to Museums Trust cut by £100,000, the Theatre Royal by £101,000 with similar % cuts other voluntary sector bodies
• At a time when people are rightly worried following revelations about meat quality, trading standards faces a £42,000 cut, while there will be less air quality monitoring.
• There will be less for job training as Future Prospects loses £150,000
• The closure of elderly persons homes will be brought forward meaning that some residents face double moves before new accommodation is completed. In 2014 pensioners will face a 90p charge when using their passes on Park and Ride services
• Disabled facilities at Greenworks and Brunswick Nursery cut by £50,000 Supported employment budget cut by £200,000 forcing disabled people into “mainstream employment”
• Social Service clients with personal budgets will lose out from a £500,000 budget cut
• Looked after children – basically those with foster parents – face a £700,000 cut with another £400,000 to come off in 2014.
• Respite services get a £50,000 reduction.
• Children’s centres face a £128,000 cut in 2014
• The toy library bus will scrapped in 2014
Some reductions in expenditure were inevitable.
Labour have simply chosen to economise on the wrong services.
Meanwhile there are some concerns about the likely quality of tonights Council debate