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County Council Budget - Lib Dem Proposals

February 6, 2012 9:23 AM

Warwickshire Liberal Democrats are proposing that the County budget for 2012/13 should redirect resources towards greater support for individual citizens and local communities, while saving money centrally and freezing Council Tax for the second year running.

The Lib Dem group has tabled budget amendments for the Council's meeting on Tuesday 7th February, calling for a smaller Tory-run Cabinet and the removal of extra allowances for Conservative spokespeople. The £51,000 annual saving generated would be used to remove the charging for public use of the "People's Network" of computers at Warwickshire's libraries.

"The Conservatives are not cutting their cloth to suit these straitened times." stated Cllr. Jerry Roodhouse, Lib Dem Group Leader, in announcing the Lib Dem amendment. "A Cabinet of ten members is far too big when the Council has reduced from nine strategic directors to three, and paying spokes' allowances to other members from the same political group is totally unjustified."

Charging for public use of library computers was brought in controversially by the ruling Tories in 2009 with Labour support, but opposed by the Lib Dems. Cllr Roodhouse stated "We said at the time that the claimed savings of £200,000 a year were illusory, and have been proved right by events. By investing £50,000 back into the service, we can restore free access to library computers for all residents, helping to reduce the digital divide between the 'haves' and 'have nots' in our society."

The Lib Dems also propose a "Healthy Communities" initiative by investing £100,000 in promoting healthy lifestyles, working with schools to tackle obesity amongst children and families. We would establish a "Support Your Community" fund to empower councillors working with Community Forums, helping localism to flourish through local decision-making on grant funding of local projects and initiatives.

On capital spending, we would also redirect resources to invest an additional £1 million capital funding into "Your Streets" projects, with decision-making devolved to councillors at local district/borough area level. This would enable greater community involvement in prioritising small investments on local schemes, for example on footway and road improvements, to help keep our highways safe for all users.

Cllr Roodhouse concluded: "We have demonstrated how the County could redirect resources to meet Lib Dem priorities, while maintaining planned savings and avoiding the need to raise Council Tax in these difficult times."