When it comes to ‘Budget Set’ at Sedgemoor District Council you can usually predict what will happen. Labour controlled Bridgwater (13 Labour councillors out of 15) draughts a budget calling for more spending in the town and Tory controlled Sedgemoor (31 Conservative councillors out of 48) votes against it. At Sedgemoor District Council’s meeting on Monday, 24th February, it was no different as the Labour budget which included spending onthe Celebration mile town centre regeneration project from the railway station, through Eastover to Clare street, was rejected by a mass forest of out of town tory arms.
Cllr Julian Taylor (Labour Eastover), as acting group leader, presented the Labour budget saying, “Bridgwater is the biggest part of Sedgemoor and the key economic driver. Generations of neglect has been caused by underfunding and with the advent of the Hinkley project we will be taking the full impact. The town needs money spent on it to make it more welcoming, especially areas like the railway station and the shopping centres. It is clear that the economic advantages enjoyed by some are NOT being shared across the district. Yet again the Tories say ‘Jam yesterday and jam tomorrow but never jam today!”.
Cllr Leigh Redman (Labour,Dunwear) seconded the Labour budget and specifically welcomed the support of Labour controlled Bridgwater Town Council which had offered to co-fund elements of the celebration mile project.
Tory Budget voted through
The Labour budget ammendment was voted down and the Tory budget then passed. Conservative leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (Con, East Polden) described it as ” ..a balanced budget, despite the tough financial climate” but said that although they had accepted some of the Labour budget proposals -including Hinkley C preparation and Grants funding, they “Wouldn’t be supporting an increase for the celebration mile.”
Despite having heard Town Clerk Alan Hurford offer to put town council money where it;s mouth is and part fund the celebration mile, Cllr Ann Fraser (Con,Petherton) said she couldn’t support this bid is it was dependent on “Sources unknown”, which left people scratching their heads.
The Tory budget, which included a 2 year programme of ‘voluntary redundancies’ for staff (which the leader described as ‘our most valuable resource’ . Cllr McGinty continued “The two-year voluntary redundancy exercise will see thirty-eight staff leave over the next two years. The Council will be taking this opportunity to re-engineer council to meet future demands.”
“Sedgemoor District Council is raising its proportion of the council tax by 5p per week on a band D property, This is an increase of £2.65 per year, equating to a rise of 1.99%. Therefore, Sedgemoor’s proportion of the council tax for a Band D property for the financial year 2014/2015 will be £137.78.”