County council budget - full reaction

By Kevin Unitt Wednesday 06 February 2013 Updated: 12/02 08:31

WARWICKSHIRE County Council agreed its budget at a meeting on Tuesday (February 5) with key areas for the allocation of budget confirmed.

At the same meeting, the county council tax for 2013/14 was frozen at the rate of 2012/13 at today’s meeting of Warwickshire County Council. The rate for a county council tax band D has been reset at £1,155.25.

Full reaction from each of the parties below.

Ruling Tories:

Coun Alan Farnell, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “As in previous years, this has not been an easy budget but the county council plans to continue to invest in Warwickshire’s future.

“We have listened to the concerns of local people and will relocate the Leamington Fire Station in a £9m investment programme. We have allocated an additional £7.6m into roads over the next three years. Kenilworth railway station will receive investment and we have earmarked £2.5million for an upgrade of Junction 12 of the M40.

“We have already announced a £3.5m set of investments under Going for Growth; this will be supplemented by a further £0.2m. We will support the pedestrianisation of Rugby Town Centre with a further £0.55m.

“An additional £2.7m of revenue will be spent on Children’s Services, £2.3m in adult social care, a similar amount on early intervention services whilst we think how best to reconfigure that service and a further £0.5m in services for young people.

“Once again, we do not propose to increase the county council tax which remains at the level set back in 2010/11. We recognise that families’ budgets are being squeezed in these constrained times and we remain committed to playing our part in helping them whilst providing residents with value for money.

“We have been able to keep council tax at the same level by making extensive savings, where possible.

“In the last year, we have continued to reduce the amount of buildings that we operate from to cut our costs. We have worked with partners in the district councils, public bodies and the voluntary sector to deliver a range of services more efficiently. We have looked at everything that we do to see if it can be done at less cost and we have passed that saving on to our customers.”

Liberal Democrats:

Coun Jerry Roodhouse, group leader, said: “With their large majority currently, the Tories were always going to win the vote today, but the Lib Dems won the argument.

“The Tories have demonstrated weak leadership and bad judgement on many important issues affecting the people of Warwickshire, and have run out of ideas other than CUT, CUT, and CUT. As for Labour, their stance on street lighting is deeply cynical and unrealistic, playing on the politics of fear.

“The Lib Dems showed today that, even in tough times, the county council could have re-directed significant sums of money to where it was most needed. Unfortunately both other parties voted against our ideas today. Recent history would suggest that, if the Tories were still in control after May, they would probably be adopting our ideas in 2-3 years’ time, by which time it would be too late in many cases. As we approach the elections in May, the Lib Dems will be setting out these ideas clearly for people to understand the real choices facing this county council – then let the people of Warwickshire decide.”

Deputy leader coun Sarah Boad said: "We opposed the introduction of computing charges in libraries four years ago when the Tories introduced them. We said the claimed cost savings were totally unrealistic, and we've been proved right. For a relatively small sum we can now get rid of these charges, which have particularly impacted on unemployed people looking for work.

"We also understand that the Conservatives will do another major U-turn on Tuesday, by reversing their decision to cut passenger transport assistants from all school bus services. If true, this shows total incompetence, because the levels of declared savings were always totally unrealistic, while they have caused massive worry to thousands of parents, who have had to fight to makes their voices heard."

Labour:

After putting forward a proposal to make £500,000 available to enable the council to switch the lights back on across Warwickshire, June Tandy, leader of the Labour Group, said: “We have argued against this policy ever since it was agreed by Conservative members last year. The debacle and shambles of the last few weeks have proven how little support there is for this policy and as a result of the concerns that have been expressed we have allocated part of our budget to enable the lights to be switched back on during the night. If any community wishes to have their lights off then the technology is in place for that to happen.”

John Holland, county Council candidate for Warwick West, said: “The extra funding for Connexions is really welcome to help get people into work. The problem with the street lights was the complete lack of consultation. I have been contacted by Warwick residents who have to leave home very early in the morning to start work while it is still dark. We need County Councillors who will listen and work with residents.”

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