Monday, 22 November 2010

Lib Dems announce alternative to Tory cuts budget

Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council are proposing alternatives to the Conservative led administration’s plans to close libraries and swimming pools and cut adult care budgets. The proposals will be debated at the Council’s Budget meeting next Tuesday 30th November.

Just like everyone else in the country, Cornwall Council is having to make cuts. But the council is in a much stronger position to save front line services because of the unitary process which is saving tens of millions of pounds by reducing unnecessary bureacracy and red tape.

Regrettably, the Conservative led administration is proposing to cut vital front line services as part of their budget. Many other parts of their savings plans are not yet thought out and could jeopardise services such as libraries and one stop shops.

The Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council are proposing an alternative to their budget which will save all front line services and make sure that the people of Cornwall do not suffer.

The Liberal Democrats have already acted to save evening and weekend bus routes and travel for post 16 students. By highlighting which services were going to be ended under Tory plans, we forced the Cabinet to think again and they have withdrawn plans which would lead to many towns and villages being cut off outside peak hours.

The Liberal Democrats are proposing amendments in three key areas:

  • For adult social care, we will ensure that services are properly funded next year. Experts said that Cornwall needed an increased budget of £4 million to cover extra needs. The Conservatives said that they could not afford this. We have found the money by earmarking increased government grants as well as other spending shortfalls so that our most vulnerable residents are properly looked after.
  • For libraries, we are horrified that the Conservatives are proposing to cut about £1 million from the libraries and one stop shops budget over the next two years without saying how they will find the money. The only plan they came up with was to close all but 9 libraries across Cornwall. We have given them time to come up with an alternative scheme by using contingency funding. We expect a fully worked scheme to be ready for debate by February and we expect them to ensure that the long term future of our libraries is guaranteed.
  • For leisure centres and pools, we feel that the people of Camelford, Bude, Penzance and Hayle have been misled by promises that the future of their leisure centre and pools would be secure. We believe that the local groups which may take over the facilities need up to a year to get management structures and funding in place and we will give them time to get this right so that these facilities can continue to be used by thousands of local residents and visitors each year. We will fund this by delaying capital projects such as a medical innovations centre and unspecified schemes at Newquay Airport by a year.

The residents of Cornwall know that cuts have to be made. Thanks to good work by Liberal Democrats in the past, Cornwall has been spared some of the pain inflicted elsewhere. The choice on November 30th is between the Conservative plan to close libraries and leisure centres and underfund services for our most vulnerable or the Lib Dem plan to guarantee these services into the future.

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