Liberal Democrat councillors last night (Monday 27 February) put forward budget proposals that would have given Brent back its closed libraries, and lifted the threat to Brent’s School Crossing Patrols.
Other proposals included:
- Reversing Labour’s cut to the highways and pavement budget – and investing extra money to tackle the maintenance backlog
- Cleaning up Brent’s dirty streets with targeted action to tackle the roads worst affected by Labour’s street cleaning cuts
- Cutting parking charges to give a boost to local High Streets
- Restoring the Navratri grant and funding for other cultural festivals in Brent
The Liberal Democrats set out a costed programme of savings to pay for their plan including:
- Slashing the bureaucracy and administration associated with ward working – where for every pound spent on a project another 94p is spent on administration – without touching the project budget.
- Abolishing the council’s Customer and Community Engagement Directorate and distributing its functions to other directorates
- Streamlining the council’s spending on communications including ending the door to door distribution of Brent magazine and cutting unnecessary spending
The Liberal Democrat proposals, set out in The Liberal Democrat Alternative 2012 [PDF], maintain the council tax freeze. The council tax grant from the government means that this year is the third year in a row that there has been a council tax freeze. The first freeze was introduced in 2009 when the Liberal Democrats led the council.
The Lib Dem proposals were voted down by the Labour majority.
Liberal Democrat Leader Paul Lorber said:
Labour has stopped listening to local residents and is no longer on their side. Labour Leader Ann John actually boasted about the library cuts when she made her speech.
The Liberal Democrats have listened to Brent residents. We have drawn up a budget which responds to their priorities and invests money in the issues they think are important including the state of our streets, the damage done by Labour’s parking charge increases and the closure of our libraries.
Labour councillors could have clawed back some credibility by voting for the Liberal Democrat proposals last night. Sadly they ducked the test and Brent residents will suffer as a result. We will continue the fight for local people.