County’s Tories reject affordable service improvements

The Conservatives on Shropshire Council have rejected out of hand Lib Dem proposals that would have repaired the county’s roads, supported small businesses and young people, and improved transport for disabled people.

Nigel Hartin, leader of Shropshire Liberal Democrats, says he is angered by the council decision.

“When will this council begin to use its budget wisely? It splashes out hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants, but it won’t make sensible changes to its budget that will help the boost the local economy. It piles money into reserves but rejects out of hand proposals that will help the elderly, the vulnerable and the young.”

The Liberal Democrat proposals, rejected at this morning’s Council meeting, would not add a penny to council tax. The £4.185 million cost of the proposals can be found within existing resources [1].

One proposal rejected by the council was £2 million boost to the roads maintenance budget. As Nigel says: “Shropshire’s road network has suffered terrible damage in recent months. Our wrecked roads are dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. But it seems that council leaders are oblivious to the state of our roads. Do they drive around the county with their eyes closed?”

The Liberal Democrats also proposed extra funding for:

  • Rural transport pilots (£225K)
  • Road safety, including to measures to reduce speeding (£385K)
  • Support for market towns, small businesses and apprenticeships (£500K)
  • Twenty-one additional cardboard recycling banks (£200K)
  • Bring back concessions on park and ride after 9.30am (£250K)
  • Reinstating cuts to Targeted Youth Support (£285K)
  • Increasing Disabled Facilities Budgets to support new Occupational Therapists (£100K)
  • Reinstating cuts to post-16 travel support (£210K).

All this much needed spending is fundable from existing budgets.

Nigel Hartin says that it is Shropshire Council’s approach that is wrong: “The council is pushing up reserves massively while ignoring the damage being cause to service delivery on the ground. There is money available to fund service improvements and boost the local economy but Conservative councillors seem totally disinterested in allocating it.”

[1] The Liberal Democrats recommended that additional resources of £4.185m are allocated in 2013/14 on a one off basis, funded by surplus resources of £2.185m already identified in the 2013/14 budget and a reduction of £2m in the contribution to the general reserve in 2013/14.

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