The first matter requiring approval related to budget options following feedback on the budget consultation and the recommendations from minute 115, Cabinet of 10 December, 2013.
It was moved by Councillor Phil Davies and seconded by Councillor Ann McLachlan –
That the recommendations contained within Cabinet minute 115 of 10 December, 2013 be approved.
It was moved as an amendment by Councillor Gilchrist and seconded by Councillor Brighouse, that –
“Add to end of paragraph 1 with the following exceptions -
“Council believes that:
a) The cost of living remains a key factor for Wirral’s people and that the Council tax remains a substantial sum for them.
b) Freezing the Council Tax for the financial year 2014/15 needs more detailed consideration once the ‘settlement’ grant levels and value of the Government’s offer of freeze grant are known. It would be unreasonable to turn the grant down yet again if it can be taken.
- The Cabinet’s recognition that the savings in winter gritting, beach cleaning and highway maintenance caused public concern and have been abandoned.
- The rejection of car parking charges in the country parks and coastal areas
Council believes that the following proposals should be abandoned:
1. The suggested saving in Street Lighting (£85k) is not acceptable since the opportunity to invest in more efficient lighting and control systems has not yet been seized.
2. It is unreasonable to shift the cost of School Crossing Patrols (£415k) to the schools own budgets which are there for education, not for the Council to take.
Council recognises the assurances given to the Policy and Performance Committees about the ability to achieve the savings. However, in the case of the Children’s Centres, wishes further detailed information to be given on the programme of services so that Members can be clear that the continuing needs are met.
Council endorses the desire for fair funding expressed in Clause 3. However, Council believes that Wirral’s case is not strengthened by comparisons with North Dorset, a small district Council with a budget of around £8m, where spending on all services is less than the financial support given to Wirral’s sport and leisure centres.
Council asks Cabinet when drawing up the capital programme for 2014/15 for consideration in February to ensure resources are made available to invest in:
- 20mph zones in residential areas
- Enhanced highway maintenance works
- Energy efficiency schemes including street lighting
Delete paragraph 2(b)(ii) and insert:
2(b)(ii) The final payment using the statutory calculation (at a capped salary level) will be multiplied by 1.2 to a maximum of 36 weeks. Council recognises that the effects of this will need to be properly taken into account in the preparation of future budgets.”
Before the amendment was debated, Councillor Green suggested that Standing Order 12 (10) be suspended in order that two amendments could be debated together with a vote on each at the end of the two debates.
Resolved – That Standing Order 12 (10) be suspended for the duration of this item.
It was then moved as an amendment by Councillor Green and seconded by Councillor Rennie, that –
- £295.51 is a vast increase in the cost of living for the hardworking people of Wirral and this increase is due to Labour approved, locally determined measures.
- the Administration is now proposing a further 2% increase in Council Tax and the cutting or removal of Pensioners’ discount.
- that the proposals before us tonight will heap yet more Labour approved, locally determined extra costs, burdens and misery on Wirral residents.
Council further notes that the Council’s ‘transformational projects’ which the Administration is relying upon for considerable savings appear to be uncontrolled and lacking in anything that could be described as a project plan.
Council is concerned that the current approach to projects and programmes is expected to deliver over £5 million worth of savings but the method of delivery outlined can at best only be described as aspirational.
Council therefore calls on the Administration to produce the business cases, project initiation documents and project plans required to give Council confidence that this much vaunted Council ‘transformational programmes and projects’ will be successfully delivered.
Council therefore rejects the Administration’s recommendations before us and refers them back to Cabinet to take appropriate action to remove those elements they have included that increase the cost of living burden on hard working Wirral people.”
Following a debate on both amendments and Councillor Phil Davies having replied, the amendment proposed by Councillor Gilchrist was put and lost (5:58) (One abstention).
The amendment proposed by Councillor Green was then put and lost (26:37) (One abstention).
There being no further amendments, the substantive motion was put and carried (37:26) (One abstention)
Resolved (37:26) (One abstention) - That the recommendations contained within Cabinet minute 115 of 10 December, 2013, be approved.