At a meeting of the full council on 1 March, Bromley Tories increased resident’s bills by a further3.99% (1.99% Bromley element of council tax + 2% adult social care precept).
Whilst there are no new major cuts planned for 2017-18, the Tories did not take the opportunity to reverse or reduce earlier cuts which are now starting to bite. Their budget also failed to offer new ideas on how to spend monies that are available in, for example, the Growth Fund.
Labour Councillors put forward an alternative balanced budget which included:
- Halving the increases on charges for domiciliary care services
- Reducing transport charges for travel to day care centres
- Re-instating grants to Citizens Advice Bureaux, ethnic minority and traveller’s communities
- Increased funding to improve street cleansing
- Reversing cuts to allowances paid to foster carers
- Creating a new economic regeneration team to support businesses and start-ups
- More staff in environmental health and planning enforcement
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Labour’s proposals were voted down by the Tories, who provided an unexpected £250k one-off money for street cleansing, plus £250k additional resources for the planning department.
Labour Group Leader, Cllr Angela Wilkins said:
“Thankfully no new major cuts were agreed, and this last-minute money for street cleansing andplanning will help a bit. I guess the Tories suddenly remembered that there are council elections next year!
However, they still won’t recognise that the £20 millions of cuts they have already made are affecting people’s lives and the quality of services the council provides. There are so many examplesof things going wrong – from Children’s Services, through Adult Services to things like dirty streets, 3 year waiting lists for food premises inspections, and a backlog of more than 500 enforcement cases in planning.
It’s good to see that after months of being told by Labour Councillors that our streets are not being adequately cleaned, Cllr Colin Smith (Executive Member Environment) agrees with us and has found some extra money, albeit £50k less than we wanted.
With councils having to become self-funding in the next couple of years, it is disappointing that the Council isn’t making the most of the monies just sitting in the Growth Fund. They are not replacing the Director of Regeneration who left recently – our proposals would have secured a new economic regeneration team to build the local economy and so increase the council’s revenues from business rates.
Money is tight, but they could have done much more to stop service levels from sinking. Basically we’re all having to pay more for less.”