Conservative-run Essex County Council is slashing the youth service; not fixing potholes and pavements; turning off the streetlights, and spending £millions on consultants in its budget agreed today.
In contrast, Liberal Democrats backed plans for job creation, fairer tax, fixing roads and streetlights, and enabling everyone to get on in life.
Liberal Democrat plans would use some of the excessive cash stored in council coffers for:-
- £1 million to help create jobs
- £4 million to support young people,
- £5 million to fix roads, paths and streetlights
Lib Dems also
- backed a council tax freeze (the Conservatives wanted a tax rise until a few days ago and Labour still do want a rise)
- welcomed £13 million extra for school pupils, delivered by the Lib Dems in the coalition Government
Lib Dem Leader and Springfield Cllr Mike Mackrory said, “We have listened to the concerns of Essex residents and proposed actions to address them. The youth service does so much good for young people, with an already small budget.
“To cut the youth service budget by 86% over four years is an outrage and very short-sighted. If they want the voluntary sector to step in, they should help them raise the money to do so. To add insult to injury, they are stopping low income 17 year olds getting to college.
North Chelmsford Cllr Stephen Robinson backed a jobs plan, with a network of Enterprise Hubs to help new small businesses become established and survive. He also welcomed an extra £8.6 million to help pupils falling behind at school, £1.6 million to help two year olds and £2.7 million to deliver free school meals for infant classes – all delivered by the Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government.
West Chelmsford Cllr Jude Deakin proposed extra cash to keep on certain street lights after listening to local residents, and attacked the council for failing to address the huge rise in road and pavement faults.
The Liberal Democrat budget amendments were:
• £3.25 million being drawn down from the Consultation Reserve(*) to maintain Youth Service funding at 2013 / 2014 level with £0.25m drawn down from the Emergency Contingency dedicated to help the voluntary sector improve its fundraising.
• £4.7 million being drawn down from the Emergency Contingency to Highways and Transportation to fund additional footway and highways repairs and white lining.
• £250,000 being drawn down from the Emergency Contingency to Highways and Transportation to fund additional exceptions to maintain all night street lighting.
• £750,000 being drawn down from the Emergency Contingency to Families and Children to fund Post 16 school transport to enable young people from low income families to continue in education.
• £1million being drawn down from the Transformation Reserve to establish a network of Enterprise Hubs to help new small businesses become established and survive.
(*) The Consultation Reserve has been created to hold the current youth service budget while the Conservatives implement their cuts.