Cllr Anne Western, Leader of Labour–controlled Derbyshire County Council has hit back at Conservative accusations of ‘dithering’ over cuts to services.
Labour took the county council from the Conservatives in May 2013 and faced an immediate budget blackhole of £10m from unallocated cuts that the Conservatives had failed to make.
Cllr Western said ‘The council under Labour now has a five year plan to deal with the unprecedented budget cuts being imposed on Derbyshire by the Conservative-led government. Derbyshire County Council’s budget is being cut by £157m over the 5 years from 2013/14 to 2017/18. Let’s be clear – these are not ‘savings’ as the Tories would have it; they are cuts – brutal and damaging cuts – to services and infrastructure and our task is to minimise the impact that this is having on Derbyshire people. It’s ironic that the Derbyshire Conservatives are accusing us of ‘dithering’ and pushing the cuts further into the future, because that is precisely what they did last year, leaving us with an extra £10m problem.’
The Labour approach to managing the cuts involves:
- Getting the council’s own house in order by being more efficient and cutting costs
- Working more effectively with partners to share assets and reduce costs
- Looking for alternative funding streams, such as EU funds
- Consulting with, and genuinely listening to, Derbyshire people about their needs and priorities.
In a bizarre move, the Conservatives are also blaming Labour for the collapse of an extra care housing contract. The council’s partner in the contract has withdrawn from the project because it has been unable to secure funding from commercial lenders.
Cllr Clare Neill, Labour’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said, ‘It is disappointing that the Conservatives want to score political points over a contract from which the council’s partner has withdrawn because it couldn’t borrow money at a rate that made it viable. Rather than play politics, they should tell George Osborne to get the country’s economy back on its feet’.