Posted: 19 February 2022
I am proud to be presenting my fifth budget as leader of this council. As we come into the tenth year of the cooperative alliance of Labour and Cooperative, Green and Liberal Democrat, we have kept the council’s finances in good order. We have gained extra funding as we deliver on an election promise of enabling more affordable housing to be built, we have reduced long term empty homes, and we are finding ways to make savings, but without cutting essential services, investing in our district and directing support to those who need it most.
This is a budget of partnership and collaboration, and I would like to pay tribute to our council officers who have gone above and beyond in this last year. And to our local businesses many of whom have struggled through the pandemic, but continue to innovate and inspire us, and also to all those who work in the voluntary and community sectors who have shone a beacon of light in these months, working alongside us to keep people safe and supported. To all our partners, thank you.
We have lived through over a decade of punishing cuts to public services imposed by the ideology of a Conservative government that just doesn’t get that putting social and climate justice, equality and wellbeing at the heart of the economy is what makes businesses and people thrive.
Our budget gets that. We are investing in people, allocating resources to tackle the climate and ecological emergency, retrofitting our council homes, putting extra resources into supporting our economy and our market towns, and investing in health and wellbeing at a time when the failure of this Conservative government to keep covid cases down has left a dreadful legacy of thousands of people with long covid in our county, and our health workers struggling with mental health and general exhaustion. As waiting lists soar, there is no end in sight for them. And as inflation and bills rise, there are really difficult days ahead for businesses, and for families many of whom have already been hit by the cut to universal credit, a cruel measure that has taken some half a million pounds out of the local economy and seen foodbank use soar, but on which our Conservative opponents remain silent, even as they protest a below inflation rise in a car parking charges they proposed and voted on themselves at the county council. So I am proud that we are leading this small district council, and that we continue to shine as a progressive light in our district, a place we know and love. I recommend this budget to you.