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Liberal Democrat Budget Speech

February 22, 2012 1:00 AM

Alison KellyThe Liberal Democrat Budget speech was once again delivered by Town ward councillor Alison Kelly.

Whilst welcoming the proposal to set a budget that did not rely on the use of reserves, due to the large anticipated housing grant from the Coalition Government, Alison was concerned that savings other than cutting staff numbers must be found.

The lack of a Sustainablity officer and a Town Centre Manager was particularly regretable. The council remains asset rich and cash poor - and year after year has had to spend vast sums subsidising its Leisure Buildings. The Rainbow Leisure centre shows what can be done by bringing in outside speciaist organisations to run borough assets she said, so why not also the Playhouse?

An opportunity pointed out previously was still being missed. Recycling of only 5% of trade waste was costing the council dear, as money can be made from recycling whereas waste disposal is expensive. Domestic recycling too could be improved by such schemes as collecting electrical goods, which would also help reduce costs, due to reduced fly-tipping.

Energy conservation too has stalled, with nothing being done to raise public awareness despite signing up for 10:10. The lack of a coherent renewable energy policy was leading to public ridicule over solar panel installation.

Meanwhile Town Centre residents were suffering from a lack of enforcement and the noise and disturbance arising from ineffective licensing policies. A sound Parking Strategy was needed to make better use of car parks, now that the County Council was about to introduce Residents Parking schemes.

Homelessness was rising and although more social housing was being built, it was grossly inadequate and yet developers were getting away with weak excuses for not contributing to this in accordance with agreed plans.

In conclusion Alison urged a firm look at the council's many discretionary services, explaining to the public just how much some optional services are costing them. Meanwhile the Coalition Government's offer of a 2.5% subsidy to enable the Council Tax Freeze to be continued for a further year should be accepted, rather than the 2.5% tax rise proposed by the RA.

The full text of Cllr Alison Kelly's address can be read here.