“Where are your plans”? – Labour leader slams Conservatives for their failure to produce budget alternatives

Calderdale Labour leader Tim Swift has slammed the local Conservative group for failing to publish their budget proposals in time to allow any genuine public consultation.

Cllr Swift said:-

“As a Labour administration, we published our budget proposals in early January. There has been a four week open consultation, and we have made some changes to our plans in the light of that.

“I find it astonishing that just over a week before the Council budget meeting, the Conservative group have yet to say anything about their proposals for the Council budget. If of course they are going to support our budget, that would be fine – although it would be helpful if they would say so!

“Even the Liberal Democrats, with only five councillors, have managed to consider the budget and publish their suggested amendment to our budget.

“It would be a disgrace if the Conservative group are now going to ask the council to consider radically different proposals without giving local people any realistic opportunity to see them and comment on them. It would display a total disregard for transparency and democracy for them to act in this way”.

Cllr Swift has written to Conservative leader Scott Benton challenging the Conservative groups actions. His letter follows:-

I was surprised to see that this week’s local papers have come and gone without any mention of any proposals from the Conservative group regarding the council’s budget.

As you know, the Cabinet budget was published for consultation over four weeks ago. Earlier this week, we met again to consider the results of the consultation and made some amendments to our proposals.

And of course your group has been kept informed throughout both of the scale of the savings required over the next three years, and of the many savings options that have been available to respond to these. I know that officers have also been available to you to consider any alternative proposals that you wished to put forward.

So I do find it astonishing that, just ten days before the Council budget meeting, your group has made no public statement about your intentions and has not published an alternative budget. After all, the Liberal Democrats with only five members have been able to consider and agree their stance.

It may of course be that you have decided that, like the Conservative group in Kirklees, you are unable to cope with the challenges created by the continued Government cuts and are not going to bring forward any alternatives. If this is so, then it would be useful to know that so we can plan ahead with certainty and get on with the challenges we face.

If however you do intend to bring forward alternatives that are significantly different to ours, then I urge you in the interests of openness and transparency to publish them without delay. After all, local people and businesses have had more than five weeks to study, consider and comment on our proposals. How can it be realistic or democratic for the Conservative group to ask the council to consider alternatives which will have had little or no public consultation and are presumably going to be published less than a week before the council budget meeting?

I look forward with interest to your response. In the interests of openness and transparency, I am making this letter public.


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