Brent Liberal Democrats last night set out budget proposals that listen to local residents’ concerns.
In contrast the Labour Leader called for community involvement in the budget but endorsed proposals which maintain controversial cuts to libraries, street cleaning and school crossing patrols.
The Liberal Democrat Alternative 2013/14 Budget
Labour’s library closure programme including striping Kensal Rise library of its books and computers in the middle of the night
Labour closed half of Brent’s libraries, broke promises to work with volunteer library campaigners, engineered the transfer of Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries to All Souls College, sold off Tokyngton library and blocked the return of library services to Barham Park and Preston
Liberal Democrats will invest an additional £400,000 per year to support library volunteers across the borough, including access to professional support, catalogues etc. and to finance plans to re-open closed libraries
Labour has hiked parking charges – twice in four months for parking permit holders – introduced parking meters in roads where they didn’t previously operate and is hitting older and poorer residents without internet access especially hard with punitive parking fees.
Liberal Democrats will freeze April’s planned parking charge increases, reverse January’s parking permit increase and keep daily visitor parking permits at £1.
We will start a wide-range review of parking tariffs and penalty charges in Brent to ensure they meet the needs of residents and businesses in Brent – ending the current policies which discourage people from shopping locally.
Labour’s proposal for a 20p rate for the first 15 minutes at parking meters is a welcome acknowledgement of the problems caused by their parking policies, but does nothing to help parking permit holders.
Labour has failed to maintain our roads and (especially) our pavements to the standards that local residents expect.
Liberal Democrats will invest an extra £500,000 over and above the administration’s budget proposals to mend potholes and resurface pavements, keeping pedestrians safer and reducing damage to Brent residents’ cars.
Labour’s cuts to street cleaning mean that rubbish is piling up on our streets
Labour has cut street sweeping and graffiti removal, leaving Brent’s streets dirtier than ever and local people fed up with the build-up of rubbish on their streets.
Liberal Democrats will invest £250,000 to clear the backlog of Labour’s rubbish and pilot more effective ways of working.
Labour has failed to provide funding for the renewal and extension of Brent’s CCTV system. Liberal Democrats will restart the CCTV installation programme for local High Streets and hotspots (costing £135,000).
Labour removed the Navratri grant and abolished the budget for Christmas, Eid, St Patrick’s and other local cultural festivals and celebrations.
Liberal Democrats will reinstate £115,000 funding for festivals which bring the community together.
Liberal Democrats will invest in a £50,000 tree planting programme, making our streets and public places greener and healthier.
School Crossing Patrols
Labour has let down parents and children by stealthily removing school crossing patrols from our schools.
Liberal Democrats will reverse Labour’s cuts and recruit new school crossing patrols when vacancies occur at an annual cost of £60,000.
Total additional spending: £1,797,000 (£862,000 recurrent, £935,000 one-off)
The Liberal Democrat budget proposals are funded by:
Reduction in size of Corporate Management Team
The move into the Civic Centre, reduction in the overall size of the council and changes in role means that the Corporate Management Team can be slimmed down, saving £518,000.
Restructure of Customer and Community Engagement Directorate
Savings from ward working admin (while maintaining the project budget), communications, the festivals unit and mayoral support will save £344,000.
To fund one-off expenditure the Lib Dems will reduce the size of three very large uncommitted earmarked reserves by £935,000 (transformation reserve: £450,000, redundancy and restructuring reserve: £420,000, remuneration strategy reserve: £65,000). This will leave £4.25m in these reserves plus over £12m in the general reserve to cover contingencies and risks.