Derbyshire Conservatives today blasted the Labour controlling Group on the way they have handled the cuts and manipulated the figures to portray a Council on its knees when the truth is far from it. Today the Conservative Group pointed out that in 2009-10 the county council received grants of £480m, whilst for the upcoming financial year it will receive £495m, some £15m more than it received in 2009/10. Overall the councils spending power was reduced by £1m or approximately 0.2% on the year before, or £500m as compared to £501m last year.
Shadow Cabinet member Cllr Mike Longden said,
“We accept that there are some real cuts in these figures, such as the 27% cut to the revenue support grant, and that these cuts impact upon some services. We accept too that there are restrictions on what you can spend money on from something like the Public Health budget, although Labour seem to be quite adept at dipping into that for some surprising things that have developed a tenuous link to health.
The carefully managed Earmarked Reserves are healthy and undoubtedly cushioning and protecting some areas of spending but sleight of hand makes that difficult for the public, and even councillors, to know with certainty. There is undoubtedly latitude and flexibility in the authority’s finances to make savings whilst delivering top quality services in a cost effective way, which the public rightly expects that we do. That’s what we did and Labour should too.
What we get instead is a continual noise from Labour that masks the truth, and that is the finances of the authority are reasonably healthy and controllable if properly managed. What we are continually struggling to grasp is how they are managing to make a pigs ear of it.”
Cllr Simon Spencer, Deputy Group Leader, incensed at the cut to winter gritting said,
“Labour are threatening a 55% cut to winter gritting services, consisting of a £200,000 cut to the budget and the removal of the reserve of £2million, which is there to cover bad winters. We are already about £1m, possibly more, into that reserve sum and it goes to show how they are manipulating the cuts to suit their story.
For months now we’ve been hearing them say these cuts will have an impact on things like gritting, so surprise surprise they cut it; radically. Putting this cost onto the General Reserve is a mistake and underlines the poor decisions being made by the leadership.”
Group Chief Whip, Cllr Buttery added,
"Evidence of Labour's scaremongering is rife: we've heard that lives will be lost because of the cuts and how many times have we heard that there will be draconian cuts to services to have them reveal at the last minute that they've found some funding and they can now save that particular service. They either, genuinely, cannot do the maths, don't understand the finances of the authority or it is a deliberate ploy to mislead the public as part of their election strategy. My money is on the latter."
Cllr Barry Lewis summed up by saying,
“The tactics displayed by the controlling Labour Group at Derbyshire County Council, in common with their mentor Alan Charles, the Police and Crime Commissioner, shows an obsession with putting up Council tax year on year. They have a flagrant disregard for the day-to-day difficulties of the public of Derbyshire, some of whom are struggling to make ends meet, which they pretend to care about, whilst their only care is in dismantling services to fulfil their own prophecy of ‘Coalition Cuts.’ Thankfully, there are signs that the public are wising up to them and will no longer tolerate their disingenuous spin.
Labour claims that Derbyshire has been treated unfairly in some way by government, claiming that similar authorities get more money than they do and yet the fact is they either got their sums wrong or are attempting to mislead the public. Cllr Western talks about the raw deal that Derbyshire got compared to Surrey County Council, who only saw a 30% cut in its budget compared to the 42% that this county saw. What Cllr Western failed to mention was that per head of population Surrey residents will get £284 per head whilst Derbyshire residents shall see £378 per head.
Look at the finances per head for Labour Vs Conservative run authorities across the country and it is clear there has been inequality. Just not in the direction that Cllr Western and her group would have the Derbyshire public believe.
I don’t begrudge a penny that Derbyshire gets but it does perhaps highlight some inefficiencies in the way this council delivers services compared to Surrey and other Conservative councils. ”