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Monday, 12th Jan 2015 by Tim Malnick

Green party budget statement to cabinet

Response to mayor’s consultation:

The Green Group particularly welcomes the extra money invested in collaborative working to improve early intervention projects in Bristol. This is something we asked the Mayor to consider and which we fully support. It makes complete sense to invest today in projects that reduce spending, solve social problems and alleviate suffering in years to come.

We repeat our earlier welcome for money supporting: outcomes of the library consultation, closer joint working in the city region and, particularly, better local rail links. Everyone wants to develop local rail, everyone thinks it is a good idea. No one can quite understand why it is taking so long for these local trains to arrive. We ask the mayor to make sure this extra money is well spent and to move things swiftly down the line.

We offer a cautious welcome to the extra funds toward ongoing green capital work. The money is welcome. But we will be lobbying for a continued contribution not a single one off payment. Bristol Green Capital year is the beginning of something, not the end. So rather than legacy funding, we call for a future fund to celebrate the birth, and invest in the healthy development of what must become a truly sustainable city.

Welcome as this extra money is, this has not been a budget consultation but a public exercise to consider how to spend a relatively small amount of extra cash, at a time when all council budgets are severely stretched.

The £3.9m extra funding represents just over 1% of the council’s revenue budget and about one third of 1% of total council spending this year.

The extra money represents just one eighth of what the council is already committed to cut this year alone as a result of government measures over which Bristol has no control.

It’s a bit like providing extra pocket money to your kids at Christmas while worrying about how you will pay the mortgage, pay your bills and keep your job over the coming year. It feels nice enough, but could be a dangerous distraction to deeper challenges ahead.

Like many in the city, we have serious concerns about the impact of cuts on council services and what lies in store in coming years. We will continue to consider the budget as a whole, identify services most under pressure and present amendments that help the hardest hit and enable the council to achieve more, with less, in a way that is ethical and responsible.

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