Debate is crucial to whole of the borough

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I WOULD like to respond to the comments made by the mayor in regard the points made by Coun Graeme Brett (News Guardian, January 19) on the proposed budget setting.

I too share his concerns, and although the mayor is correct that a small number of councillors have visited three local authorities, the mayor herself did not attend all three.

The visits were to see councils that have outsourced their services.

Since those visits there has been no further discussion or dialogue and the proposals were included in the council plan and budget which is still to be decided on, yet the mayor and her cabinet march on with the work.

As a Labour group we know we face some very difficult times and are faced with huge cuts in government funding, a total of more than £47m will be removed from the council’s base budget over four years.

But in the next 14 months we will have removed a staggering £32m from the council’s day to day budget.

The mayor states that the other parties have been working on this, but the fact is we are starved of information and are only able to receive briefings.

We are not being provided with the business plans or the financial projections.

There are no risk assessments made available to opposition councillors, so it is no wonder that we are complaining about a lack of involvement.

The overview and scrutiny considered and agreed that the progress on the Community and Leisure Trust should be stopped as there was a distinct lack of figures, projections and risk analysis, and the whole matter was too high a risk.

The fact is the cabinet took very little notice and continues to create a trust.

The majority of councillors are opposed to this work being undertaken and the haste that it is being done can only make one suspicious of the council and the protection of democratically provided public services.

I hope readers will know we are coming to the end of the mayor’s third year in office and we hear the cabinet member for finance boast that they have saved £30,000 on bottled water, but contrary to their election pledges, they have grown the debt that the council now has outstanding and are still planning to borrow more and sell more of the public assets off.

We will continue to challenge and resist Conservative policies and plans that are not in the best interests of the residents, businesses and employees working in the borough.

We want a future for our young people and their young people, and we want an honest debate.

The forthcoming debate to be held on Thursday, February 9 is crucial to the whole of North Tyneside.

COUN JIM ALLAN

Leader of Labour Group

Camperdown Ward