Below is an article sent to the Daily Echo in response to Labour Council Group Leader, June Bridle's piece in tonight's paper.
IN MY VIEW
I write in response to Labour Council Leader, June Bridle's article on the subject of the City Council Budget.
Conservatives do not run Southampton City Council and haven't done for 23 years. However we have one third of the Coucillors which gives us some influence. In February we abstained on the Liberal Democrat Administration's budget. This allowed them to pass an amended budget on the Lib Dem Mayor's casting vote. We did this because we were able to persuade them to make significant changes to their own proposals. These included reducing their Council Tax increase, saving Cobbett Road Library from closure, preventing the scrapping of the weekly bin collection, preventing the introduction of night time car parking charges in the city centre and saving vital front line children's social services. These changes were funded by reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, such as reducing the amount of money the Council spends on printing glossy brochures.
We feel that through constructive opposition we got a better deal for Southampton.
Labour's budget was ill thought out and thin on substance. They proposed a massive hike in Council Tax.Their proposal to fund free swimming for young children was funded by the proposed closure of Oaklands Swimming Pool in Lordwood. Their proposals for very small sums of additional money for children's activities were funded by cuts of £333,000 to the budget that looks after vulnerable children, including those coming out of care or on the verge of going into care. This would have had dire consequences for the most vulnerable children in the city. We feel that in stopping Labour's planned closure of Oaklands and by preventing their planned cuts to social services that we did the right thing.
The Conservatives' budget had some radical policies for the city; including free bus travel across Hampshire for pensioners, lower home care charges for the elderly, more recycling measures and a ten per cent discount in Council Tax for pensioner households. We also proposed scrapping council tax for people that become Special cCnstables and hope that this would encourage people to sign up to help make the city safer. We support a tough line on criminal behaviour, zero tolerance on the sale of alcohol to children and where appropriate alcohol exclusion zones in the city.
Councillor Jeremy Moulton
Conservative Finance Spokesman - Southampton City Council