BREAKING: Budget is formally approved by Lincolnshire County Council
All the latest updates from Lincolnshire County Council’s all-important budget meeting this afternoon. (To see a round-up of the first half of the debate this morning, click here).
Latest update: 3.10pm.
Summing up for the Conservatives, Coun Marc Jones said the debate had been mature but send a ‘spend, spend, spend’ approach was not sustainable. He said not being sensible would mean that next year ‘cutting a few million pounds on buses would be a drop in the ocean.’
He said the council had to protect economic development and defended the decision to end the council’s funding for PCSO’s, saying money was available from the police budget.
He pointed out the number of councillors will be cut because of boundary changes, saving around £100,000 and said it was right to have a debate about allowances.
He added: “The budget is balanced, given the circumstances we are in.”
Councillors then moved on to vote.
Labour amendments to the budget proposals was defeated by 49 votes to 12 with five abstentions.
The UKIP amendments suffered a similar fate with 12 in favour and 43 against with ten abstentions.
The amendments from the Lincolnshire Independents was defeated by 42 votes to 6 with 17 abstentions.
The controlling Conservative group’s budget was approved by 40 votes to 13 with 13 abstentions.
Coun Patricia Bradwell (Con), the council’s deputy leader, said Labour’s budget proposals would leave the council broke.
She added: “We have to live within our means.” She pledged lobbying would continue to get a ‘fairer deal’ for Lincolnshire.
She denied the council had made a U-turn on cuts to certain services, saying it there was no indication at the start of the budget discussions that additional funding would be available.
She said that regarding health, the council would still be delivering ‘more services to more people.’
Coun Judith Renshaw (Lab) questioned the scale of the cuts and said: “”Our grandchildren will look back and ask what the hell did we do in 2016?”
Coun Jacqueline Brockway (Con) said the council could not justify spending on services - if alternative funding was available.
UKIP councillor Victoria Ayling said the latest injection of extra cash was ‘crumbs’ and peanuts.
She claimed residents were being ‘robbed’ by Westminster. She said the Government should pull out of Europe, stop spending on foreign aid and focus on mending pot-holes.
Coun Kevin Clarke (Lab) spoke about the possibility of fire stations closing and supported on-going spending on buses, saying two third of services did make money.
Council leader Martin Hill opened the afternoon session by dismissing UKIP and Labour’s alternative budget proposals.
He said they would involve spending an extra £20m on ‘nice things.’
He maintained the council’s financial policy meant that it could avoid unpopular cuts.
He warned that if the UKIP and Labour proposals were brought in, even more cuts would have to be made next year - including to services like road gritting, children’s services and buses.
He said the police had pledged to provide on-going funding for PCSO’s.
Coun Hill said the council could look at the size of the executive.
He added there had been a 45 per cent cut in communications staff and defended the County News magazine.
Coun Christopher Pain (Ind from Europe) said the ‘drastic cuts’ were a step to far. He questioned why local Government funding had been cut while central Government was spending £120m on aid to India and ‘sending rockets to Mars’.
He also said creating one authority - and doing away with district councils - would save millions of pounds.
Coun Rosanna Kirk (Lab) said her party would invest more in society and that its budget proposals ‘put people first.’
She accused the Tories of ‘disempowering communities.’
Coun Sarah Dodds (Lab) said her 16-year-old daughter thought the council was in a ‘ridiculous situation’. She said the council should stand up against the Government.
She said the education services grant was being cut - despite a lack of debate.
Coun Dodds said health was a real passion and the idea of cutting preventative services like health walks showed how ‘silly’ the council was.
She added: “We need to keep services that prevent people from getting to worse amount of need.”
Coun Dawn Morgan (Lab) said it was wrong to blame her party for the current national economic problems which, in turn, had led to a reduction in funding.
She accused the Tories of electioneering by promising to protect frontline services which, she said, was clearly untrue.
Coun Stephen Palmer (Lincs Ind) said he ‘appreciated’ the Conservatives’ budget proposals and blamed central Government for the reduction in funding.
However, he admitted he was concerned about a cut in budgets for preventative services which would impact on the NHS.