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Lib Dems’ call for more openness and transparency on council budget rejected

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THE opposition Liberal Democrats on Warrington Council voted against the Labour administration’s budget calling for more “openness and transparency.”

They proposed an amendment calling for more openness and transparency and more consultation but this was rejected by Labour who approved a budget which will seee a council tax rise of 3.98 %.

Lib Dem Finance Spokesperson Cllr Ian Marks said, “The national economy is stagnant and austerity is certainly not over. It has gone on far too long and the cuts are too deep. The Conservative Government has failed to deliver on business rates reform, the Fairer Funding Review and the much delayed Green Paper on Social Care reform.

“Eleven months ago there was a Peer Review of Warrington Council by the Local Government Association. This made a number of recommendations for change at the Council such as the need to face up to tough decisions like other councils have had to do. We want to know when the ruling group is going to give a progress report on action taken to redress the shortcomings identified.

“The National Audit Office is concerned about the billions of pounds being spent by councils on commercialisation just to raise income. We have severe reservations about some of our Council’s investments such as the Redwood Bank, Together Energy and out-of-town retail investments like Tesco in Bolton and Widnes and Asda in Manchester. We are not convinced the returns outweigh the risks. The Accounts for the last two years have not yet been signed off and a third financial year will be complete in a few weeks time.

“Turning to the actual budget, we again have discriminatory charges against people who cannot renew their green bin collection charge on-line. The differential is now £5 which is a 14% increase on last year. There is very little in the budget about combating climate change. Working with partners we would greatly expand the tree planting programme.”

Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Bob Barr added, “Some Labour councils like Stevenage involve opposition councillors to help achieve a consensual budget in these difficult times and I welcome this. This year there has been far too little consultation and it has taken place much too late in the budget setting process. Also, it hasn’t been consultation, just briefing sessions. Our amendment called for the Council in their 2021/22 Budget ‘to consult earlier in the budget setting process, involve all members and not just the Cabinet in challenges to the Directorates’.

“Sadly this was rejected which is most disappointing since the Labour Group Leader is on record for saying how open and transparent he want to be.”

Council tax to rise by 3.98pc after cuts and savings of £14.1m

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

2 Comments

  1. Well said, Cllr Marks. Transparency should be the watchword for every public body. It is scandalous that councillors, who have been duly elected, appear to be ignored and provided with very little information.

    I know that this doesn’t only apply to opposition councillors. I have spoken with two Labour councillors who have told me that they can’t get their questions answered – within their own party!

    We deserve better than this. We’re not children, and the council isn’t our boss.

  2. Amen to those sentiments Jim, and Cllr Marks, but if you are expecting an open honest and transparent debate from the leader of administration that purportedly espouses those qualities whilst consistently failing to enact them you will have a long wait. To quote Cllr Bowden’s remarks back at him, he is “seriously flawed,” when it comes to doing what he says he wants to do.

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