Green Councillors this week expressed despair at the Labour Council for pressing ahead with massive cuts to city services. Greens said cuts to children’s centres, youth services and adult social care would drive up costs for the Council, while decisions to cut services such as subsidised buses, street cleaning, toilets and seafront staff would lead to a visible deterioration of city services.
At the meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday, Labour and Tory councillors agreed to begin a statutory consultation process with city residents on proposals to make £68m of cuts over four years. Greens voted against the proposals, labelling them as “unfair” and “highly damaging” to the city.
Alongside the budget proposals, Labour and Tory councillors at the committee also agreed cuts to the support low-income households receive towards council tax payments, meaning a minimum 33% increase in council tax for the poorest households. The committee also noted a decision taken in June to end a 10-year policy for the Council to run on 100% renewable energy.
Responding to Labour’s budget proposals, Greens finance spokesperson Councillor Ollie Sykes, said:
“The budget proposals put forward by the Labour administration on Thursday are the first step in a long-term plan which is likely to decimate local services over the next four years.
“Although squeezed by the ideological pursuit of austerity by Conservative national government, Labour do have options for how they make these cuts and where the burden falls. Labour have decided to make massive cuts in their first year, in the hope that people will have forgotten by the time of the next election. Labour have decided to increase the council tax burden on the poorest households by 33% while proposing a 0-2% rise for everyone else.
“Labour’s track record in the last seven months has been a series of bad choices, from the massive costs associated with dismissing the Chief Executive, to additional and unnecessary consultancy work on the Valley Gardens scheme. Their proposals moving forward are just as ill-considered, cutting vital services such as adult social care, children’s centres and youth services, which will drive up costs on stretched crisis services.
“The Tories have said Labour’s proposals could have easily come from their own Conservative manifesto. This tells us a lot about the local Labour Party, who have time and again sided with Conservative colleagues over the last seven months. Where is the new politics? Where is the alternative to austerity? These cuts are unfair, damaging and underhand”.