Labour councillors condem Tory/Lib Dem “coalition for cuts”

Posted on Friday 5th November 2010 at 9:31 am by SH (Editor)

Liberal Democrat councillors in South Gloucestershire have followed their Westminster leaders in backing a Conservative vision of outsourcing and cuts, according to Labour councillors on South Gloucestershire Council.

In early October the council’s ruling Conservative Cabinet agreed its vision on which to base the council’s future key strategies, plans, budget and organisation.  This stated unambiguously that the council would become more of a commissioner and enabler of services as “a general principle”.  The Cabinet also agreed to cut the notice period of staff it will make redundant.

Labour councillors opposed to this vision ‘called it in’ for further discussion to a Select Committee meeting on Tuesday 2nd November 2010, at which they outlined their concerns about the direction the council is moving in.

They specifically sought to halt moves away from direct service provision and or that worsen staff terms and conditions.  However, the other two parties voted this down.

Instead, the Liberal Democrat leader proposed that “The Committee agrees with the Cabinet decision of the 4th October 2010 in principle”, which won the support of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors.

Speaking after the meeting, Labour Leader Councillor Roger Hutchinson (Labour, Filton) said:

“We will continue to fight against moves to outsource council services, which is being done for ideological reasons.  The council does not know what its financial grant will be for next year, nor what key legislation like the Localism Bill will say, yet it is rushing to sign up to general principles that include hiving off its services.”

“There is no evidence that external providers, whether they be private companies, community groups or town and parish councils, are interested in stepping in if the council pulls out, or what the quality of those services would be.  There is also a very real danger that access to services will become a postcode lottery.”

Councillor Hutchinson added:

“We have been promised some consultation but the Administration’s intentions are clear.  I am shocked, but not surprised, to see the local Lib Dems fall so meekly into line and back a vision that they would have previously opposed.  They have become part of a coalition for cuts.”

Source: Labour Group on South Gloucestershire Council

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