Liberal Democrat Councillors have announced their plans to amend the ruling Labour Cabinet’s budget plans at the Budget council Meeting on Thursday 23rd Feb. The plans would see over £2m of the cuts Labour have planned for frontline services reversed, paid for by cutting the Labour leader’s planned £1m ‘Delivery and Innovation Fund’ and reducing council borrowing.
Just some of the plans included in the Liberal Democrat Amendment are:
– Reversing Labour’s planned cuts to voluntary sector organisations (including York CVS and the Salvation Army)
– Reversing Labour’s £50,000 cuts to Youth Services
– Cutting the planned £1m ‘Delivery and Innovation’ fund
– Introducing living wage of £6.83ph for council workers
– Freezing council tax
– Reversing £895k of road maintenance cuts
– Reducing borrowing by £1.5m this year (which saves £135k in interest payments this year alone)
– Reversing local Ward Committee funding cuts
– Cutting two cabinet members
– Reversing cuts to the target hardening fund to combats anti-social behaviour
– Keeping Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre open
Councillor Carol Runciman, who is proposing the amendment, said “Our amendment would make the proposed budget fairer for York’s residents, in particular the most vulnerable.”
“We think that local council services are more important that a fund for the Council Leader to spend at will. That’s why we are planning to cut the ‘Delivery and Innovation’ fund and put the £1m back into frontline services for residents. Our plans would see funding restored for projects that benefit residents all over the city.”
She added: “I very much hope that backing from all parties can be found for reversing cuts to vital services and support for the most vulnerable in our city.”
The problems surrounding this area of public open space look as if they might be nearing some kind of resolution at last. The recent Ward Committee heard from Council Officers about the recent history of the site and the action that is being taken to finally resolve the issues.
As previously reported in Focus, Taylor Wimpey have carried out remedial works, particularly to the trees and have made it clear to the interested parties that sale of the small area of land at the rear of Hob Moor Terrace needs to be rescinded so that it can all be included in the public open space. The aim is for the land to be transferred to the Council who will lease it to an appropriate organisation to manage.
A report is due to go to the Cabinet Member for City Strategy at the beginning of March which will outline how it is proposed to achieve those aims.
The Chase Resident Association gave a presentation about the consultation work they are undertaking to establish the kind of uses that are made of the area now and what kind of things people would like to see happening in the future.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Carol Runciman has announced that two cabinet posts will be cut as part of the Liberal Democrat plans for the City of York Council’s budget, to be debated on Thursday 23rd February.
The posts, which are held by Labour Councillors, come with an additional allowance of £14,700 on top of the standard allowance given to all Councillors.
Cllr Runciman says that in these difficult times, there should be less members of the cabinet. It is right given changes within the council organisation that these now be trimmed down to size. She said “When Labour took control of the Council in May last year they immediately added an additional cabinet member to give one of their own councillors more pay. We were opposed to that move.”
Liberal Democrats are now proposing that the Council should cut not only the taxpayer-funded cabinet allowance that Labour added, but another cabinet post too. This latest proposal from the Liberal Democrat Group on the City of York Council is just one of a raft of proposals being announced and set to be debated at the Budget Council meeting on Thursday.
Councillor Runciman said “The council has been going through an internal reorganisation which has seen the number of departments whittled down. We think it is only right that the number of cabinet members paid extra out of the public purse are dealt with in the same way. When we are reforming the council, it’s only right we reform the cabinet too.”
Planning application list
Several new planning applications have been submitted in the Dringhouses area over the last few weeks.
The most significant is the proposal to erect 12 houses on the former Turf Tavern site. The deadline for objections has now passed and the Council has until April to determine the application.
Turf Tavern now demolished
Reuban Mayne at the Beckfield Lane recycling centre
A petition is circulating in Acomb calling on the Council to reprieve the Beckfield Lane recycling centre. The Centre is due to close after Easter as part of the Labour Council’s cuts programme.
An alternative Salvage and Re-use centre, which was to have been provided at Harewood Whin, has also been axed.
Funding to continue the Beckfield Lane facility would be found by halting the “free” roll out of WiFi access in the City centre.
The petition has been organised by local Acomb resident Reuban Mayne who can be contacted on York 781589
The petition should be available to sign “on line” shortly.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Social Inclusion Cllr Nigel Ayre has revealed that the Liberal Democrats will submit plans to reverse the cuts to voluntary sector organisations planned by the City of York Council’s Labour Cabinet to the Budget Council meeting on Thursday 23rd February.
Organisations which would see their funding restored under the Liberal Democrat plans include YREN, York Citizens Advice Bureau, York CVS, Older Citizens Advocacy, Relate, SNAPPY (a charity that provides social and recreational opportunities for children and young people with special needs) and the Salvation Army.
Cllr Ayre believes Labour’s voluntary sector cuts, which the cabinet openly admit could lead to an increase in inequality in York, should not be targeted at those organisations which work with the least well-off.
Councillor Ayre said “Many of these organisations work with the most vulnerable people in York. These voluntary sector groups have been targeted for cuts larger than those in, for example, the Arts sector. Labour’s cuts in the voluntary sector will hurt the very people they claim their budget will protect. Labour’s ‘fair’ budget is a sham, but we are pledging to restore funding to many of the voluntary sector groups in order to make sure the worst off really don’t lose out.”
“The Council has a responsibility to promote fairness and inclusion. Local Liberal Democrats will not avoid that responsibility. We are committing to funding these projects that Labour are planning to cut because we think that these voluntary sector organisations need help with their admirable work. Labour’s choices suggest they don’t care about this important work.”
Cllr Ayre slammed Labour’s hypocrisy over this year’s budget, saying “Labour have kept the extra money they put into the budget last year for additional taxpayer-funded union officials, but can’t find enough funding to support, for example, the Salvation Army’s work with the homeless. Labour might talk about fairness, but their actions tell a different story.”
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Figures released by the Council reveal that over £1 million was spent on consultant’s fees in the final 6 months of last year.
The expenditure came at a time when Labour were preparing to announce an unprecedented £19 million cut in pubic service budgets with over 100 jobs losses in the pipeline.
In opposition, Labour had criticised the use of outside consultants by the Council despite being assured that it was often cheaper to do so than recruit permanent additional employees. Now they seem to have got that message, but the scale of the conversion will have surprised many.
With hundreds of thousands of pounds also being spent on new furniture, it is likely that some scrutiny of the cost assumptions for the furnishing of the new Council offices will be demanded.
The Council should re-use existing furniture wherever possible.
Cyclists now have more choice where to park their bikes in the city centre.
The new cycle parking area is based in Newgate Market, which was created by converting a row of empty trader stalls at the back of the market.
The row of cycle racks has room to park up to 20 bikes, which will be sheltered from the rain (or snow) as they are under the old trader stall’s canopy, which has been retained.
This new area of cycle parking is best accessed via the archway from the Shambles and is monitored by nearby CCTV.
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Although schools now receive their own funding direct from the government, the Council is trying to pass on additional costs to the joint schools fund.
One example is a £195,000 bill for Broadband that schools will have to pick up in future.
This means that the will be less money to support small schools like the Burnholme College which nearly closed 2 years ago before the, then LibDem controlled, Council provided a financial lifeline.
Children travelling to faith schools will lose their right to free transport next year.
The Youth Service – the people who provide activities for teenagers – is also set to get another cut as are Children’s Centres while York’s remaining Children’s Home will be privatised.
Children’s Social Workers will receive less training while there will be lower grants to voluntary organisations working in the education and children’s services areas.