Labour Candidates Hit Out at Tory County Budget

Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Ricky Holcombe
“It’s a lie that they have protected youth services. They have decimated them as they were an easy target.”  Ricky Holcombe (Labour Candidate for Highbridge)

Tory Somerset County Council has just announced some details of its “very difficult” budget for the next financial year which includes “reducing bureaucracy in the county council” (but it is not yet clear what this entails) “re-organising services” and “a freeze on council tax” . They claim they have achieved the ‘protection of youth services , school crossing patrol officers, libraries and provided extra funding to revamp damaged roads’.

However, the Somerset County Labour Group says this amounts to almost 200 job losses with up to a 20% staff reduction in some sectors.

Money Wasted on consultants

In a statement the Labour Group said “The MTFP budget setting has been a crude approach that has cut across the previous service review methodology that has been going on for the past year. While the service reviews themselves were flawed, the failure to deliver the promised savings through them, and through wider organisational change, has meant the County has had to seek greater levels of savings during the budget setting process. Money wasted on external consultants over the past four years, whose work now seems largely pointless, could have been better spent on retaining services. “

Real services to the Public now at risk

“The anticipated cuts cannot be accounted for through the reduction of bureaucracy – real services to the public are now at risk and the leadership of the Council need to be honest with the public of Somerset on where these cuts will be felt and the choices they have made. Somerset County Council was already running on empty.”

Wreckage of their own re-organisation

“Even now the Tory leadership of Somerset County Council is spending a further £3 million for the services of PricewaterhouseCoopers in order to rescue them from the wreckage of their own re-organisation of the Council.”

Youth provision destroyed due to lack of vision

Ricky Holcombe , the Labour Candidate in the crucial Sedgemoor District Council By-Election this Thursday in Highbridge, led the attack on the Tory cuts “It’s a lie that they have protected youth services they have decimated it as it was an easy target. Over 2m in youth service gone in 18 months 80% of staff redundant The rest passed into the voluntary sector paying reduced wages to those who were lucky to have a job . The cuts need to come at the top of the council not from those that do the real work. The Tory leader’s comments are a joke and an insult to those that have lost their jobs and livelihoods as a result of his leadership . All the many years of hard work developing a youth service provision destroyed due to lack of vision and idealism ,shocking and shameful, he ought to resign All done to appease a Conservative Lib Dem mantra of no council tax rise when in reality due to the lack of council tax support from central government it will rise but for many that can’t afford it to Once more the lowest paid disabled and elderly bear the brunt!.”

Young people campaigning with local Labour councillors

Leigh Redman
“it’s a sticking plaster rather than a cure.” Leigh Redman (Labour Candidate for Bridgwater South)

Leigh Redman –Sedgemoor District Councillor for Bridgwater Dunwear and candidate for this years County Election in Bridgwater South added “I’m happy that after our campaigning in East Bridgwater the County are having to honour the pledge to at least protect the youth workers at the Rollercoaster, however it’s a sticking plaster rather than a cure. In the short term it will encourage Bridgwater’s Rollercoaster to keep up the great work they do, but it’s been down to the young people campaigning with local Labour councillors in strong Labour wards where we’ve managed to fight to hold on to at least some local funding for specific services”

The Labour Party statement said that while it has had success in mitigating the worst impact of the Tories cuts to Youth Services in Somerset nevertheless the overall budget for Youth Services in Somerset has been slashed by 80% adding “Without the benefit of strong Labour representation most areas of the County have seen their youth services disappear entirely and lost all support for young people .”