Parties put forward alternative budgets

PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 09:07 18 January 2013

Mike Bell

Mike Bell

Archant

THE three opposition groups within North Somerset Council put forward their alternative budget proposals at Tuesday’s meeting of the authority.

Among the Liberal Democrats’ 14 ideas are scrapping the proposed demolition of the Tropicana and ploughing the £700,000 earmarked for that to developing a new children’s and health centre at the old Weston Library in the Boulevard.

The party would also raise £900,000 by abolishing a proposed two-month council tax free period for empty homes, £100,000 by transferring the ownership of car parks where charges do not apply to town and parish councils, and restructure the council’s senior management hierarchy to save £50,000.

They would also sack one executive member to save £25,000.

Party leader Mike Bell said the group would also invest £200,000 to boost independent retailers, £237,000 to youth services and £4million in highways infrastructure and flood alleviation.

He said: “Our priorities are clear - to give a fair deal to residents across North Somerset, to invest in jobs and the economy, and to focus on the priorities of local people, not pet projects or grand schemes.

“We have shown how the council can balance the budget, make efficiencies and improve services in key areas.

“We hope the Conservative majority will listen to our ideas and implement some of these constructive suggestions.”

Labour’s Richard Tucker said the group would reverse social services cuts by putting £1.3million back into the budget and would also put a stop to the Tropicana demolition.

Although the group has scrapped plans to use £2million from the council’s reserves, it would abolish the second home and empty home council tax discount to bring in £900,000 and reduce the authority’s contingency budget from £2million to £1.5million.

Cllr Tucker said: “We have tried to be constructive with our alternatives and within that, our priority will be to protect front-line services and especially social services from the worst effects of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government’s cuts, which in the council’s own words are ‘unprecedented and severe’.”

The independent group would reduce major highways maintenance projects by £300,000 while using extra funds for more lasting repairs of potholes and flood damage, reduce the council’s un-earmarked reserves by up to £1.41million and the contingency budget to £1.5million.

All three groups would reduce North Somerset Life to a quarterly publication, saving £100,000 a year, and raise council tax by two per cent to bring in £1.6million.


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