At today’s budget Full Council meeting in Bristol City Hall, the city’s Green Councillors have refused to vote for the Labour Mayor’s austerity budget that proposed cuts of £34 million across Bristol, including library and public toilet closures and a large funding cut to Adult Social Care.
Councillor Eleanor Combley said: “We are entering a new dark age for council finances and this Labour administration is going into it with their eyes closed. We still know little about the nature of the ‘savings’ the Mayor is suggesting or how these will impact on the communities we represent. What we do know is that the Mayor is proposing a £6.2m cut to adult social care and a £1.5m cut to Public Health. It seems inevitable that they will hit some of the most vulnerable people in Bristol the hardest. Over the last year we have asked the Mayor to actively oppose Tory austerity in a coordinated campaign with other Core Cities. Instead of collaboration and openness from the Labour administration, we saw more empty platitudes and a shutting down of engagement, including the purge of non-Labour Cabinet members late last year. Green councillors have today refused to vote for this austerity budget as we can’t possibly support such sweeping cuts, particularly without a much clearer explanation of how and where savings would be found and any clear vision for longterm council finances.”
Councillor Combley added: “Labour like to suggest that in pushing through these Tory cuts they are being ‘responsible’. I’m afraid I cannot agree with that – I see nothing responsible in closing down libraries and defunding vital services. The harsh reality is that we’re close to the bone already – there is precious little left that can be cut without hugely impacting on the Council’s statutory duties. Instead of passing more austerity budgets year on year and eroding the country’s public services, Labour need to explore radical alternatives and take the fight to the government.”
In his speech on the budget, Councillor Stephen Clarke said:
“Again and again we hear relentlessly positive language used to describe these terrible cuts. For example: we are told that we can cut £6.2m from the adult care budget and yet still get a ‘more joined up service’…maybe. Apparently we can make it ‘easier for people to get the help they need’ in the education and skills budget while cutting £90k…possibly. We are told that we can ‘improve outcomes for children’ in the children’s care and support service while cutting 277k…really?
“Why don’t we just say it like it is?! These cuts will (combined with earlier cuts) cause devastation to frontline services.”