Greens have condemned a decision by the Labour Council to vote against their budget proposals, which put forward more than £2m of funds that would have seen the Council able to protect social work services, fund more homelessness prevention work and support environmentally friendly energy options for the city.
An additional Green proposal that sought to remove free Councillor parking at a cost of £30,000 in order to reverse part of a planned cut to school transport for vulnerable children was also rejected by both parties.
Ahead of the budget setting process, Greens put forward six proposals that would have seen over £2m returned to the council’s coffers without taking money from other key services. Greens slammed the Labour administration for preparing a deal with the Conservatives in advance of the budget to ensure it would pass, a pact they labelled a ‘purple budget coalition.’
The Labour and Conservative groups rejected proposals on increasing park security, boosting litter collection and bringing costly emergency accommodation in-house. The Council spends over £4.1m paying private landlords for emergency accommodation for rough sleepers.
Green finance lead Councillor Ollie Sykes said:
“The Greens are incredibly disappointed, but after the collusion between the Labour and Conservative Councillors, not surprised to see our positive suggestions for city’s residents be rejected at budget Council. Labour tried to wriggle out of voting in favour of our ideas by saying our work to reverse their cuts were ‘too complicated.’ What is complicated about stopping cuts to learning disability services, funding home to school transport, about warmer homes, more park security or ending the practice of outsourcing our emergency accommodation to money-guzzling private companies?
“Greens engaged as early as possible with both parties as soon as our amendments were submitted; gave them all the time they needed and frankly we hoped for more from fellow Councillors for our residents. Smiles from the Labour group as Green amendments to prevent homelessness and to end fuel poverty fell were shocking. Greens improved the Labour group’s budget – but they would rather oversee over £12m of cuts than put our plans for the city first.”
Convenor of the Green Group Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty added:
“Gleeful cheers from the Labour Councillors as their £12m cuts budget was voted through – thanks to a deal with the Tories – is a shameful outcome. It’s our residents who lose out. Green amendments identified funds for vital services without robbing one to pay for another- but Labour would clearly rather hand down massive cuts than support this approach. At the end of the day their grubby deal with the Tories to pass a cuts budget will affect our marginalised residents the most. They will now be left to endure increased cuts for another year, with yet more to come.”
Green amendments are available to view here