Opposition budgets suggest slashing council wages
PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 January 2015
AXING councillors' expenses and getting rid of North Somerset's executive members - these are some of the money-saving ideas proposed by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.
The district faces another wave of budget cuts as North Somerset Council tries to make savings of £17million this year to cope with diminishing funds from Government.
The authority’s current budget plans for less childcare funding for infants, slashing road safety spending and hiking charges for community meals.
The LibDems and the Labour group presented their alternative budgets at North Somerset’s full council meeting on Tuesday.
The Labour group suggested abolishing councillor expenses, which it predicts would save the council £29,000, and getting rid of the executive system to return to committee-style governance – which it calculates would save £100,000.
Among Labour’s others suggestions are reversing a meals on wheels price increase, reversing adult care cuts and cancelling cuts to school crossing patrols.
Group leader Richard Tucker said: “There are a number of corporate change proposals, such as abolishing the council’s executive system of governance and bringing in a more open, transparent decision-making process.
“We would reduce the number of paid chairmanships and the amount of scrutiny panels, in favour of decision-making committees. Alongside this savings package, we suggest largely abolishing councillor expenses, which I don’t believe any Labour councillors claim for anyway.
“We would also look to introduce a top salary pay cap within the council, while paying the living wage to those on the lowest pay and to cut expenditure on consultants.”
The LibDems also suggest cutting pay for senior council staff to save £150,000 – including a five per cent pay cut for the chief executive.
They also want to save £100,000 by reducing North Somerset Life magazine, and reducing spending on consultants and agency staff to save more than £200,000.
Group leader Mike Bell suggests his party would slash £200,000 from councillor pay and perks, including cutting allowances, reducing travel and sacking executive members.
Cllr Bell said: “We want to cut parking charges, boosting our economy. We want to get our roads and pavements repaired and start to get rid of the potholes.
“We want to boost regeneration in Weston and make our night-time economy safer.
“We’ve shown how these ideas can be paid for by cutting back on the bloated pay and perks enjoyed by councillors and by asking our best paid staff to share the pain with the public.
“Every year LibDem councillors propose costed alternatives that would deliver on the priorities of local people.
“We hope councillors of all parties will support our ideas and help us to make them happen.”