Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lincs Tories get their priorities wrong - despite windfall from Labour Government...

With a whopping increase in Government grant of more than NINE per cent, the Tories on Lincolnshire County Council had no excuses when setting their priorities for the coming year.

But sadly, they have rejected a sensible, value-for-money plan to increase budgets to benefit vulnerable elderly people, children with special needs, youth services and the environment.

Remember, last year the Tories who run Lincolnshire County Council TREBLED home care charges for some of our most frail elderly and disabled people from £40 to an eye-watering £120 a week - provoking a 24-hour protest outside County Offices.

But despite the Labour Government handing over one of the most generous settlements ever, Lincolnshire Tories have stubbornly refused to reduce their crippling charges by a penny-piece.

At the budget-setting meeting on Friday, I supported the fully-costed alternative budget tabled by Labour Group Leader Rob Parker.

It would have made an extra £5 million available to spend on vital 'people' services in the coming financial year by:

* stepping up efficiency savings,
* trimming finance charges, and
* not increasing ‘balances’ as planned by the Conservatives.

The cash injection of millions of pounds in extra funding by our Labour Government would also have allowed the Tories to scrap planned new charges to make hundreds of young people pay to get to school.

Lincolnshire has one of the lowest staying-on-at-school rates in the country, yet two years ago, the Tories imposed a £180 charge for over-16s just to get to school.

Now they are consulting on a plan to:

* INCREASE charges for over-16s,
* CUT all free travel for children in faith schools,
* CUT assistance for children who move home during their exam year but want to finish their education without moving school,
* CUT all free travel for children who live within three miles of their school who now benefit from using empty seats on school buses.

These daft draconian cuts don’t address the real problems. Instead they penalise parents and children unfairly and in my view they risk adding to serious road safety and environment concerns.

The Director of Resources, Pete Moore, confirmed that Labour’s alternative budget is realistic.

Once again, we have shown Lincolnshire Tories how to put people first and get some joined-up thinking and real value for money. But sadly, as usual, they have refused to listen.

I hope the people of Lincolnshire will let the Council know what they think of Tory cuts - despite the windfall of millions from the Labour Government.

2 comments:

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

Its not as if we have had nine per cent every year Phil even though we all know how much you socialists love spending!

fairdealphil said...

Geoffrey:

You're right of course. We havn't had nine per cent every year.

But we have had ELEVEN years now of above inflation grants from the Labour Government, in contrast to the real year on year CUTS we had from the previous Tory Government.