Monday, 3 November 2008

Time to get on with it

Tory & Labour dithering means Council Tax threat

Councillor Tony Robertson, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Sefton Council, is calling on the Council's ten-member three-Party Cabinet to put political differences aside to take clear and positive action to help keep Council Tax rises down to a minimum.

"Sefton Council needs to show our residents and businesses that we understand the financial difficulties people are facing. We must 'cut our coat' accordingly," he says.

Councillor Robertson is dismayed that the Conservative and Labour Parties seem to be dithering over an initial list of £1.8 million potential savings drawn up by the Finance Director and given to party leaders three weeks ago. Labour and Tory leaders asked for more time before discussing these items. Cllr Robertson agreed, reluctantly, to allow this in order to keep unity in the three-party Cabinet, but he is worried:

"Our communities are really feeling the pinch, with costly or unavailable mortgages, falling property values and repossessions. In these circumstances, the Council not only has to try to help people. It also needs to pare down its own spending where it can - to combat problems which people on small and fixed incomes face due to the unfairness of the hated Council Tax."

"We probably need to find savings of roughly £5m this year and next year. The sooner we can find them, the sooner we will balance the books. The Council can't afford to dither. It needs to act quickly and decisively -the whole Cabinet needs to engage seriously in tackling Sefton's budget. Any person who cannot put the residents' needs first has no right to be there."

"The Council's Standing Orders require me, as Leader, to bring budget proposals forward each year. I am prepared to accept this responsibility. But I need the Leaderships of the Labour and Tory Parties to join me in the battle to reduce Sefton's costs."

"The straightforward savings which I proposed to bring to Cabinet last week were deliberately constructed to avoid any controversial matters. They make up only one third of what we have to find. If the whole Cabinet does not pull together now, we will have no chance at all of giving our people what they need and deserve."