The CW&C Budget 2014
On 3 March 2014 Cheshire West and Chester Borough Councillors debated the council budget for the forthcoming year. It was televised so if you have the wish and the stamina all that was said can be heard.
In short the Tories are very proud of what they have achieved. In their view they have managed the available finances well; invested in the future of the borough; and kept the council tax burden for residents low.
Labour, I think had difficulty responding in a constructive way to the debate …. They seemed determined to press some national agenda …. A world away from Cheshire West & Chester where national government have in their view adversely impacted on the residents of CW&C. So a cost of living crisis was trotted out; the surplus bedroom issue came out. Nothing to do with local authorities but clearly important to the Labour Party election machine. No mention of course to all those who have been brought out of having to pay tax; no mention of the benefit of the pupil premium that gives every child a chance and has given every child a chance in West Cheshire and no mention that companies like Vauxhall and Land Rover in West Cheshire have benefited enormously from a Lib Dem Business Secretary of State determined to exploit the strengths of UK plc.
It was a long evening. In essence and in short it is apparent that the Tories believe that their dad is bigger than Labours and Labour Believe their dad is bigger than Torydad. It is no wonder residents lose faith with politics.
To combat the politics of yesteryear as was so vividly presented by the 2 parties I spoke and I focussed on two issues …. Well I only have three minutes to make the points I want to …. So I concentrated on the councils procurement policy and to the rather more constructive matter of raising income rather than cutting costs (the Tories are fixated by cutting costs and Labour loves being drawn into this debate). Neither said anything about raising revenue so I thought I would!
I pointed out that keeping a close eye on the bottom line was clearly important in these difficult times but equally we needed to look to the top line … to bring in additional revenue. I challenged whether the council procurement policy helped local business ….. experience to date suggested our money was leeching into the economies of neighbouring or of the national economy …. Too many regionally based or nationally based companies were winning contracts from our council at the expense of local companies and charities.
I argued that for every £ spent in Cheshire at least another £7 would be spent in the borough simply by spending that same pound again and again. That was how to generate jobs in Cheshire; that was how to protect our borough and to build a sustainable future.
I also argued that I a little part of me died when I saw yet another local charity lose a contract with CW&C. People would say “Why should I give of my time and experience for others if my own council isn’t interested in Cheshire charities!”
See it on the webcast. OK I didn’t say precisely the words printed above but those were the sentiments and I believe those are sentiments Liberal Democrats can be proud of!
Chester Liberal Democrats
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