Today the council released its draft budget for 2012/13. The council's financial situation is extremely challenging and next year £15M must be saved to balance the books.
Conservative Councillors are focused on ensuring that front line services are protected. This means keeping all our Sure Start Centres, leisure centres, libraries and other community facilities open. It means protecting the road and pavement repairs budget and protecting the vital bus routes that the council supports. And it means ensuring more support for the most vulnerable children in the city. I am very pleased that in my area of responsibility, Childrens' Services and Learning, there are no service reductions planned.
It is important that in these difficult times we keep costs down for local people. We have committed to freezing the council tax again and are keeping the 10% discount for pensioner households. We are ensuring that other charges like parking charges are frozen.
An important priority for Conservatives on the council is keeping front line council staff in work, delivering the services that residents pay their taxes for. We recently changed staff terms and conditions and this saw some pay cuts for higher paid staff. This was done to protect jobs and services and we are sticking to our commitment to protect 400 council jobs. Next year's budget will keep compulsory redundancies as low as possible, likely to be less than 50.
This is all in stark contrast to Labour in Southampton, who have said that their plans involve big increases in council tax, of at least 4.5%, the axing of 1,500 council jobs and the serious damage this would mean to front line council services.