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Lib Dems urge County Council to protect services by using reserves

December 20, 2010 6:00 AM

Cty Cllr Hazel WatsonThe Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have called on the Conservative administration at County Hall to use its growing reserves to protect frontline services, such as Youth Services, Social Services and road maintenance.

Surrey Lib Dem Leader Cllr Hazel Watson said: "The County Council should not be cutting much needed frontline services such as the Youth Service, Social Services and road maintenance whilst building up its reserves".

"The County Council had over £54 million in reserves in April and this sum is set to grow to over £57 million by the end of March 2011. The money should be spent where it is needed, not stashed away in the bank."

"The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has recently urged councils to dip into their reserves in tough times to help manage the consequences of the economic downturn. He highlighted over 50 individual local authorities with over £50 million in reserves for a rainy day. One of these is Surrey County Council."

"For Surrey County Council, the rainy day has arrived. Instead of making proposals to cut day care, grants for social care and increasing charges for disabled people, as well as cutting road maintenance and the Youth Service, the County Council must now dip into its reserves to protect these essential services."

The County Council's Cabinet meeting on 21 December will discuss proposals to cut spending on the Youth Service by £5 million from £16.1 million in 2009/10 to £11.1 million in 2012/13. Other service cuts being considered include:

  • A £45,000 cut in grants to voluntary organisations.
  • £300,000 in cuts for day care services.
  • Increased charges for disabled adults.

Cllr Watson concluded: "The Conservative administration has already decided to reduce spending on road maintenance by £700,000 to pay for highways claims, despite all the potholes in Surrey's roads. It would be much better to use reserves to protect services than for Surrey residents to suffer the consequences of such drastic cuts."