Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are slamming the partisan nature of a last-minute boost to the Council’s funding, and the ruling Conservative administration’s decision to prioritise a small reduction in the district’s green waste charges over other potential uses for the money such as protecting libraries, Police Community Support and youth services.
The Conservative national government yesterday announced that it was belatedly awarding extra money to some councils in England, with South Gloucestershire set to receive an additional £1.8M in the next two years. However, the Guardian newspaper reports that 83% of the new cash is going to Conservative councils, whilst the five most deprived councils will receive no extra funding.
The Leader of Labour’s councillors in South Gloucestershire, Councillor Pat Rooney, says:
“Our council is facing huge cuts thanks to this Tory government’s policies, so of course I welcome any additional funding. However, all local councils need more money and the country’s most deprived areas clearly need support, but they tend to be in Labour areas so the government is not giving them additional funds. The government has been exposed as giving a partisan bribe to keep Tory councillors across the country in line.”
Labour says that the local Conservatives running the council are compounding the inequality by pursuing the wrong priorities, with £230K belatedly allocated to reducing the annual charge for the green waste collection from £36 to £30. This money could have been put towards services that are facing cuts – such as libraries, youth services and Police Community Support Officers.
Councillor Rooney comments:
“No reasonable person would prioritise a 50p per month reduction in the green waste charge over libraries, youth services or Police Community Support Officers. This is a political move solely because the Tories promised to scrap the charge during the election and they want to save face.
Only last week they voted for a budget without this reduction, and their U-turn is only possible because of this last-minute news. I believe that this short-term windfall – the funds are only for two years – could be much more responsibly spent on protecting services that are under threat.”