Thursday, 18 February 2016

Budget - council tax up, services cut

Council tax will go up by 3.99% in the coming year, but services such as youth provision and libraries face cuts.

After funding from the Government had been slashed more than expected, at the last minute they offered South Glos some additional one-off money. The Liberal Democrats proposed using some of it to protect youth services and Chipping Sodbury library.

Instead, the Tories funnelled the cash into a 50p a month cut in the green bin charge, less than the price of a chocolate bar.

The Liberal Democrat amendment proposed maintaining the Positive Activities Fund for youth services at the current level, instead of the quarter million pound cuts proposed by the Tories. The youth fund will be cut for each of the next three years, meaning fewer sessions and activities for young people across South Gloucestershire. The amendment would also would have kept Chipping Sodbury Library open for an extra year, giving the local community more time to find a long term solution.

The Liberal Democrats believe in enabling everyone to fulfil their potential in life, whatever their background. Universal youth services are a vital part of this - reaching out to teenagers who may be alienated from school, offering health advice and emotional support and giving our young people a positive focus. The wider community also benefits from supporting our young people. Libraries too are about more than just access to books - they offer many other activities and services, including access to computers for people of all ages to use for studying, applying for jobs and accessing services.

The Conservative councillors largely remained silent, refusing to explain why they felt a small reduction in the green bin charge was more important than youth services, libraries, PCSOs on the beat and a whole string of other ways the money could have been spent. Before the election, we challenged them to explain what they would cut instead, now we know.

You can read how our local paper covered it here.

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