The Liberal Democrats on Rochdale Council will propose an amendment to the Labour budget at Wednesday’s Budget Fixing Council meeting to find a further £556,000 in savings through councillors allowances and restructuring the Council, to provide more money to improve income and pay for local services at a ward level such as fixing pot hole ridden roads, providing more youth services, and tackling crime and fly-tipping.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Andy Kelly, said: “The Labour Administration is once more being forced to make savings and raise Council Tax by a further 5.65% as a result of another cut to Rochdale Council’s grant by a miserly Conservative Government wedded to austerity.”
The Lib Dems are proposing reducing the number of councillors for 60 to 40, reversing last year’s 34-51% allowance increases, cutting paid councillor posts and reducing certain scrutiny chairs allowances.
Councillor Kelly added: “The measures include up over £88,000 to invest in increasing staffing in the revenue and benefits department, that in turn can be spent on generating income for fixing our roads and other basic services that are valued my local residents. It is also a pro-active approach for future years; planning now to be able to avoid council tax rises next year and provide the money that we need to invest.”
“With regret, we will vote to support most of the administration’s proposals, but we believe that the pain will be reduced if the Council agrees to tighten the belts of the one group of people have had to make no cuts whatsoever during this period of austerity- the councillors themselves. In fact, they are the only group of people to have their budgets increased in the past year.”
“We recognise that our savings represent only a relatively small amount compared to the many millions that this Council has been forced to save, but this modest amount would nonetheless make a real difference to local citizens.”
Councillor Irene Davidson, who will second the proposal, said “It is about time we looked at more creative ways to improve income owed to the council, and the best way to do that is pay for more staff to bring that income in. It is an ‘invest to save plan’.
“As a Council we should be seeking ways to return collection rates to where they were pre 2010. Rochdale Council has written off over £10m of debt in that time which we will never recover. There is nothing stopping us providing debt and budgeting advice to people and businesses which is proven to increase collections and reduce personal stress.”