New figures reveal that Labour run York Council overspent this year’s winter maintenance budget despite it being one of the mildest winters on record.
The council’s 2013/14 winter budget, which funds gritting and salt bins, was £107,000 in the red despite the city seeing no significant snowfall or prolonged frosts this winter. This has led to concerns that recent cuts by Labour have left the budget dangerously low and if next winter sees more typical weather there will be major disruption in York.
Labour has cut the winter maintenance budget every year since coming to power in 2011, and last year took 30 miles of road off the priority gritting list while cutting two-thirds of the city’s salt bins.
Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Services, commented:
“It is extraordinary that despite it being the fifth mildest winter since national records began the Labour Council has still overspent its budget.
“Cuts by Labour have reduced gritting routes and salt bins across York and therefore reduced the city’s capacity to cope with bad weather. If we have a more typical winter next year then the budget is just not there to ensure roads and paths are gritted and residents are kept safe.
“Liberal Democrat budget plans called for an extra £30,000 to be put into winter services and an extra £500,000 to be given to communities for local priorities such as extra salt bins or gritting. This would ensure that the resource was there to cope with bad weather.
“Labour got lucky this winter. However, the policy of spending money on city-centre vanity projects like Kings Square instead of on frontline services like gritting roads will catch-up with them.”
The budget information was published in response to a question from Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Services, to the Labour Cabinet at March’s Full Council:
Question from Cllr Reid:
“Can the Cabinet Member confirm what the winter maintenance budget was for 2013/14 and whether the department came in under or over budget?”
Response from Cllr Levene (Cabinet Member for Environmental Services)
“The winter maintenance budget is projected to overspend by £107k…”