Wednesday, 7 March 2012

City Council budget meeting

The Liberal Democrats tried to change the City Council budget tonight.  We were outvoted so our suggestion didn't go ahead.

What we wanted to do was make three cuts.

The first - to abolish a special fund that only the Council Leader gets to spend (three quarters of a million pounds)

The second - to abolish City Magazine - a glossy publication that costs more than one hundred thousand pounds

The third - to reduce the allowances paid to senior councillors.

Taken together this would have found 1.1 million pounds a year over three years to spend on street cleansing and pothole repairs.

Labour, who have the majority on the Council, voted against us but I strongly believe that our suggestion would have meant cleaner streets and safer roads.

The whole amendment text, including some introductory stuff about Council Tax, is pasted below.

Maybe next time people see a pile of litter they may want to reflect on how this money would have helped clear it.

a)       Council Tax Freeze
This Council welcomes the decision to  accept the money from Central Government in order to freeze the City Council element of the Council tax this year.  Council believes that this was the right decision to make.
Council believes that it would be beneficial if Central Government were to continue this additional funding in future years so that the option to again freeze Council Tax could be pursued.  Council therefore requests the Chief Executive to write to  Ministers to seek to arrange an all party delegation to discuss the continuation of this additional funding to freeze Council Tax for future years.
b.  Balance of Savings
Council  welcomes the fact that more than 80 percent of the savings made this year fall into the category defined by the Interim Director of Finance as  "not directly affecting residents".  Council regrets the anxiety that was caused in many parts of the City by the trailing of particular proposed cuts.
c) Pothole repair and road maintenance
Council notes the grant of 1.1 million pounds by the Coalition Government for extra road repairs in Liverpool. This followed damage caused by a severe winter.
Council  however notes that the budget for dealing with potholes and road maintenance is over stretched and that road and pavement repair issues are a  signficant cause of complaint by residents across the City.  Council further notes that not repairing roads  and pavements now can cause extra needed expenditure in future years and so early repair is always preferable.
Council also  notes that the street cleansing budget is also over stretched and the quality of street cleansing is also a significant cause of complaint by residents across the City.
Council therefore resolves to put an extra  £1.1 million  into the budget line (s) for pothole treatment, road repairs and streeet cleansing for the next three years,  ( 2012/13 ; 2013/14; 2014/15) meaning a total of £3.3 million overall.   Council believes that this money should be split equally between cleansing and road repairs if possible.
This money is to be shared fairly across the City so that no part of the City is overly advantaged or disadvantaged.
This money is to be found for the next three years by adopting the following measures
i.  cancellation of the City Leader's Fund  - £750,000
ii.  cancellation of City Magazine  - £111,000
iii. the reduction of the amount of money paid in Special Responsibility Allowances to Councillors by - £239,000 . This is a reduction in the total available and will obviously involve some adjustments to individual payments.
As these items are all "in the base" of the budget these savings mean a saving each year.
Council believes work should be done as a matter or urgency on the Capital Programme  to look at a long term solution to  underfunding for highways and streetlights.

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