Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are expressing disappointment that the district’s ruling Conservatives have tonight voted through cuts to Police Community Support Officers and public toilets. The Tories also voted for a programme that is likely to lead to the closure of at least two libraries in the district.
The Conservatives used their majority to force through these cuts and vote down calls to defer the decision until the Council’s overall budget priorities are published next week. South Gloucestershire Council is in the midst of a £36 million savings programme in order to deal with the cuts imposed by the Conservative Government. This is on top of £43 million of cuts made earlier in the decade.
The Council’s ruling Conservatives are due to publish their budget priorities next week ahead of the decision-making Policy & Resources Committee meeting on 1st February. However, at the Communities Committee this evening Tory councillors pressed ahead with votes to cut funding for 9 Police Community Support Officers, close several public toilets and save money from the library budget by scrapping the mobile library and closing Chipping Sodbury Library.
Labour’s Lead on the Communities Committee, Councillor Ian Boulton (Staple Hill ward), said:
“It is common sense that councillors should see the whole budget and know what money is available before making decisions of this magnitude, but the proposal to defer a decision on the future of the Police Community Support Officers, public toilets and libraries was voted down by the Tories. Residents will rightly view this rushed decision as “putting the cart before the horse”.
The Council needs to set a balanced budget and that means cuts, but we want to see the Tories’ spending priorities in the round before pressing ahead with savings such as those decided tonight. As the Council’s overall budget plan is due to be published within a matter of days this seems a perfectly reasonable request. However, Conservative councillors refused this reasonable request leaving us with no option but to vote against their cuts proposals.”