For the record, at last nights Council meeting I made the following alternative proposals for massive cuts at Wellingborough Council. I called specifically for the people of Wellingborough to have a real choice put before them in a referendum: of either massive cuts to public services or a 50p car parking charge and/or a 5% increases in council tax from 2012 ,having had five years of no increases in council tax at all. These are democratic issues not just about cuts. How far will the Tories allow the public to have a genuine choice put before them, an open and honest debate, with all the facts available? Currently it seems that the Tories are not interested in democracy in action. Are they not interest (frightened?) of what the people may say.
My Proposals in full:
1. To allocate £2 million from the £9 million we have in revenue balances to make the current level of cuts unnecessary for the next 12 months. Wellingborough, compared to many councils, is relative rich. We can afford this and still have reserves to cover other unforeseen eventualities. The Daily Express supports councils doing this; the government has suggested it and I believe we should do it. Reserves are intended to cover “emergencies” or unforeseen situations. If this does not count I don’t know what doesn’t! The very existence of the council and its services to the people of Wellingborough is under threat and we have not had sufficient time to look at alternatives. We will be buying up to 12 months of space to look at these alternatives and engage with the people of Wellingborough over them.
2. We should apply to the government, as suggested in the report before us, for a “Capitalisation Direction” to enable us to use our extensive capital reserves (of over £14 million) for revenue purposes – particularly to under-right any future redundancies if they become necessary in 2011/12
3. We should consider a supplementary council tax rate increase of 3% during 2010/11 if the funding from the government to cover the cost of a nil council tax increase does not materialise.
4. We should hold a referendum during 2010/11 on increasing the council tax by 5% in 2011/12
5. There should be a referendum on whether the council should introduce car parking charges of around 50p for three hours in all town centre car parks.
6. We should explore the possibility of applying for a local byelaw that would enable the council to introduce car-parking charges for out-of-town shopping, to enable the town centre to remain at least on a level playing field compared to them in this respect (Localism Bill will allow for this)
7. No redundancies to take place during 2010/11
8. All proposals to cut fundingshould be withdrawn and proposals to “outsource” facilities (such as Glamis hall) should be delayed for at least 12 months
9. All current council services should remain without the need for cuts
10. Proposals for income generation (e.g. credit card fee, solar panels on council buildings) should be proceeded with) and other similar income generation opportunities should also be considered and fully consulted on with the people of Wellingborough
Campaigning against the cuts must continue and intensify and yesterday I also called upon Wellingborough Council to work with other local authorities, trade unions, community groups and others around the country to defend public services and to defend local democracy. If this battle is not won, there will be little left for local government and local councils to do in four years time and local communities will be devastated. Is this what local people want? I think not.