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Lib Dems propose budget to protect services and cut parking costs

by mikebell on 30 December, 2017

Liberal Democrat Councillors on North Somerset Council have proposed budget ideas for next year that will protect services for children and young people, keep council tax bills low for poorer families and cut the cost of parking in Weston.

North Somerset Council will consider its budget for 2018-2019 at a series of meetings in January and February. The Conservative administration that runs the council is proposing to make a number of cuts to local services including Children’s Centres, supported housing and Book Start. Conservatives also plan to increase the council tax bills for low income households and increase parking charges in Weston, including charging on-street in the town centre on a Sunday and before 9am.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Mike Bell, said: “The budget challenge facing the council is considerable, and some difficult choices have to be made. We believe the council should listen to residents and protect the things that people value the most. We have proposed a number of new savings to balance the council budget, whilst reversing the worst of the cuts planned and delivering some fairer parking for Weston town centre.

“We urge Conservative Councillors to consider our ideas and to think again about the unfair parking charge hikes, cuts to children’s services and decision to clobber low income households. The budget is about choices and they can and should make a different choice.”

Liberal Democrat proposals include:

  • One hour of free parking in all short-stay car parks in Weston
  • No on-street charges on a Sunday or before 9am (reversing Conservative proposals)
  • Free parking on Weston sea front and in short-stay car parks after 6pm
  • No increase in the minimum payment of 24.5% for low income households under the council tax support scheme (reversing Conservative proposals)
  • No new cuts to children’s centres in North Somerset (reversing Conservative proposals)
  • A new £100,000 fund to invest in early years and Primary school reading
  • A new three-year project to address health inequalities in Weston town centre

The Liberal Democrat alternative budget proposes a number of savings ideas and ways to increase income in order to plug the council’s £1.94 million budget gap and fund new policy ideas. These include:

  • A cut in councillor allowances to save £75,000
  • The transfer of car parks to Town Councils and/or introducing charges outside Weston, to raise £100,000
  • A reduction in the number of issues of North Somerset Life produced and outsourcing, saving £60,000
  • A cut in spending on external consultants, saving £55,000
  • A review of officer terms and conditions, saving £150,000
  • Generating more income from advertising and sponsorship, to raise £100,000
  • Increasing council tax by a further 1%, to raise £1,000,000
  • A review of capital programme priorities and phasing, to save £300,000
  • An increase in income from renting out council offices, to raise £150,000
  • Reducing the cost of the external support services contract, to save £100,000
  • Increasing the council’s approach to commercial investment, to raise £375,000

Lib Dem Alternative Budget 2018-2019 (PDF)

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