Tuesday 27 October 2015

Green Councillors on Norfolk County Council resign committee positions over 'savage' spending cuts

In the light of an earlier post on local council cuts and the new Labour leadership LINK I thought readers might be interested in this news:

Green Party County Councillors Richard Bearman and Elizabeth Morgan will today stand down from their positions as Vice-Chairs of Norfolk County Council’s Communities and Adult Social Care committees, to take effect at the next full Council meeting.  Both councillors have said that they feel unable to implement the "savage spending cuts" which the government would force them to make.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and financial settlement is expected to deliver further cuts to local authorities, and the Green Party's councillors have warned that further reductions in government grants to councils will undoubtedly damage the ability of Norfolk County Council to deliver statutory services.

Norfolk County Council has seen its budget reduced dramatically over the past 3 years, and is going to have to save at least a further £111M in the years 2016-19. The modelling of a 25% reduction in funding, equivalent to £169M  over a three-year period has brought into sharp relief the potential devastating effects on local libraries, fire services and children’s social care.

Green group leader Councillor Richard Bearman explained:
“Efficiency savings are one thing, but we are being asked to support spending cuts which go way beyond this. We are effectively being expected to deliver a Conservative party manifesto for local councils; and as county councillors and members of the Green party we are not prepared to do that.”
He continued:
"The anti-austerity movement in this country needs to get its message heard in Whitehall loud and clear. The path of deficit reduction chosen by this Conservative government by slashing the funds they give to local government will change forever the way councils operate."
The trade union Unison, which represents council employees, recently described some of the proposals as “devastating” for staff and services. According to its local branch secretary, the cuts could lead to hundreds of job losses for Norfolk county Council employees.

Councillor Morgan echoed this, saying:
“The cuts to local government funding are hitting vulnerable people the hardest, and although one of the council’s four key priorities is supporting vulnerable people, we find ourselves forced into a position where we are simply no longer able to do that adequately.”
She added: 
“I did not get elected to implement the kind of cuts the chancellor wants us to, which would dismantle the essential services so many people in Norfolk rely on." 
Both councillors keep a place on their respective committees and will hand over any special responsibilities to their successors.  

 The Green Party has 14 Norwich City Councillors (Labour 22, Lib-Dems 3) 

 Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
"I know these two councillors personally and I know how dedicated they are to the welfare of Norfolk communities, and particularly to the most vulnerable people in them.

"Like councillors up and down the country, they are seeing funds for essential services slashed, communities torn apart by the loss of facilities and support, and I commend them for taking action to highlight this.

"Austerity is making the poor, the disadvantaged and the young pay for the greed and the fraud of the bankers - and that's hitting home in the furthest corners of rural Norfolk as well as in its cities and towns.

No comments: