On the proposed council budget Calderdale’s Conservative leader, Coun Scott Bento,n, tries to blame Labour for cuts when his own Tory Government is to blame (Courier, January 27).
He cites road and park maintenance, waste collection, libraries, and parking charges, but fails to mention the Government grant has been reduced by almost £90 million since 2010. A further cut of £7.5m this year leaves the council with just £150m to do everything. The Tories intend to scrap local government support grant completely in three years.
In my opinion, despite such frightening funding cuts when demand for services is rising, Labour proposes a balanced budget that prioritises vital areas – protection for vulnerable children and adults, highway maintenance, and safe, clean, attractive neighbourhoods for living and working. Vital extras include: £2m for children’s and vulnerable adults’ services to meet growing pressures; £600,000 for highways to improve drainage, which is in addition to the £3m flood recovery and resilience fund to help with re-building earmarked last year.
Coun Benton complains about council tax rising by almost five per cent. He does not say that this is composed of a 1.95 per cent increase suggested by his Tory government for council responsibilities, plus essential increases for countywide police and f ire and rescue services. Whilst Calderdale Tories whinge, Tory-led Surrey County Council have announced a referendum to ask for a 15 per cent increase to pay for elderly care after Government cuts.
Coun Benton pretends he could manage such cuts better. Back in the real world, Labour councillors have negotiated a bed blocking reduction initiative with the NHS trust to transfer patients well enough to be discharged from hospital but needing support before returning home. This excellent Labour idea should be a real help to patients while freeing some NHS expenditure for other uses.
Richard Ramsden, Clover Hill Road, Halifax