Bury Council have now set their budget for 2014/15 following a stormy meeting at Bury Town Hall on 19 February 2014.
Many of you responded to my survey and I would like to thank you all for that. Virtually everyone that responded wanted Council Tax frozen (it was increased last year by the Labour-run Council by 3.7%). An overwhelming majority wanted the Council to find further efficiency savings, including sharing services with other Boroughs.
Council Tax was indeed frozen, as the Council agreed to accept a Government grant to freeze it. Last year, Labour Councillors voted to reject the grant and placed the onus on hard working families and pensioners.
A crucial issue has been that of Ramsbottom’s roads. Many residents continue to complain that our roads and footpaths are crumbling and are in a terrible state. I have to agree with you. Whilst I continue to report potholes where I see them, it is clear that there needs to be substantial capital spending on our local roads by Bury Council. There is also a good business case for it – as Bury Council spent £3million on compensation payments in the last 3 years for damage to vehicles and injury payments.
That is why I and my colleagues in the Conservative Group proposed that £2million should be diverted from Council reserves for a one-off spend to put right this problem and invest in our local roads. Unfortunately, the Labour Councillors on Bury Council – including Ramsbottom’s Labour Councillor Luise Fitzwalter, voted this proposal down. The Labour Councillors did vote to spend an extra £500,000 on Bury New Road in Prestwich, but they were happy to vote down any extra spending on Ramsbottom’s roads.
Our alternative proposals (which were also voted down by Labour) included;-
- Reverse the cuts to voluntary services and increase the budget by £200,000
- Create 52 new apprentices for young people under the age of 25
- Reinstate the Council Tax Cash-Back Scheme for the over 65’s
- Reinstate free car parking in Bury on a Sunday and offer 1 hour free car parking on Monday-Saturday to generate economic activity in our Borough’s towns
- Increase the street cleaning budget and dog fouling enforcement by £130,000
- Reinstate Children’s Social Care Posts and increase the budget to help looking after vulnerable people.
- Reducing Senior Councillors Allowances and Scrapping Deputy Cabinet Member posts
- Reduce salaries of Council employees earning over £50,000 by 10%
- Reducing the Council’s funding of trade union posts
- Making further efficiency savings and back office cuts including reducing borrowing costs.
We will continue to monitor the situation and suggest ways of the Council saving money.