I published budget statements submitted to Beestonia from Cllr. Greg Marshall (Lab) and Cllr. Steve Carr (erstwhile Lib Dem) at the weekend, and now I have the missing part of the Chamber trinity, Cllr. Richard Jackson (Con), on why he voted the way he did in the Borough budget:
We took a pragmatic decision to support the budget put forward by the Labour & Lib Dem Group at the Town Hall. That isn’t to say that we support, unconditionally, everything in their budget and it certainly does not mean that if we Conservatives had a majority we would be managing the council in the same way.
I was surprised that Broxtowe’s coalition actually proposed the council tax freeze in the first place. Throughout discussions in the lead up to the budget it seemed that they were preparing to increase Council Tax and senior coalition members dismissed the Governments funding for a Council Tax freeze as “a dangerous bribe”. Rumour was that they planned a 3% increase and that seemed to be the case until a few days before the budget papers were published.
Many of the savings identified in this budget are ideas that we have put forward in the past, for many years I have said that Labour & Lib Dems at Broxtowe would only make these saving when they were forced to and this budget confirmed that.
The debate and vote on the night of the budget meeting demonstrated the underlying tensions within the ruling coalition. Three Labour Councillors voted against their own budget whilst Steve Carr abstained leaving the Conservative Group as the only group to fully support the idea of a Council Tax freeze. We now have the spectacle of both Labour and Lib Dem members claiming to have forced their coalition partners into a zero increase whilst at the same time at the fringes some of their own members didn’t support it!
My fear now is that Labour & Lib Dems will fail to get to grips with the problems just around the corner. The budget for 2012/13 requires employee savings to be found throughout the year yet there is no clear indication of how they are going to achieve these. Even more worrying is the black hole in the budgets for 2013/14 and 2014/15 which will require further savings of more than £700K – so far there is no indication of how they plan to achieve these savings and little sign that the coalition is united enough to achieve a balanced budget.
At this time it’s the role of an opposition to work constructively to get the councils finances into a sustainable position for the financial challenges it faces and not to oppose for the sake of it.