Leader of the Green Councillors, Charlie Bolton, has today highlighted the “disappointing” gap in what Marvin promised to do in his manifesto and the reality of his first budget. On the day that the Mayor takes his budget to Full Council, which includes £101 million of cuts to the Council’s finances, Greens have pointed out that in areas as diverse as children’s centres, libraries and police Marvin is implementing cuts when he promised real investment.
A few examples of Marvin’s manifesto pledges, compared to his budget include:
On Children’s Centres: Marvin promised to: “Protect Children’s Centres, bringing together early years’ health and education to tackle child poverty and help children and families build resilience for life.” In fact the proposed budget includes cuts of £750k to Children’s Centres.
On Libraries: Marvin promised to: “Ensure Bristol has library facilities fit for the 21st century” and many of Labour’s councillors campaigned against any local library closures. The budget however includes a cut of £300k.
On crime and safety: Marvin promised to: “Focus on cutting crime through building a strong partnership between the Council, communities and the police.” The budget however proposes to cut PCSO’s by £181k.
Commenting on these striking differences, Cllr Charlie Bolton, said,
“Marvin made many promises during his campaign and it was on this basis that the people of Bristol elected him. He needs to come clean now and justify to the people of Bristol why he feels he needs to make these cuts. When we are trying to promote more young children walking to schools, why is funding for lollipop people being removed? When we are trying to strengthen our local democracy, why is funding from voter registration schemes being scrapped? When we are trying to empower communities, why is funding from our neighbourhood partnerships being slashed?
These are serious questions that Marvin must answer. I for one am deeply disappointed that so few of his election pledges are being kept.”
He continued, “As Greens we will continue to do what we promised. We will continue to work positively and progressively with other local political parties to fight back against the cuts and then to mitigate the impact of them the best we can. We will also, however, keep our promise of holding Marvin to account.”
Councillor Charlie Bolton's speech to the budget meeting can be found here>>
The relevant section of the proposed budget quoted above are:
Children’s Centres - Children’s centres provide valuable services including much of our early intervention work with young families. They also support public health to deliver their programmes. This proposal keeps our commitment to those services and the value they bring, and recommends a change to the way that we organise our offer, as part of a (0–19) multiagency early help family support model. We will review management structures and combine some services to create efficiencies. We hope to keep 18 children’s centres open and find alternative ways to provide some of the existing services. (£750k)
Library Services - This would focus our investment and efforts on a smaller but high quality library service in Bristol. This would include retaining the Central Library and a redesign of the service within the lower cash limit. (£300)
Police - There are 130 PCSOs in Bristol, funded by the police, the council and the Police and Crime Commissioner. We need to consider the level of funding the council continues to put into the service which may see a reduction in Police Community Support Officer posts. We will continue to support but at a reduced level. This proposed reduction is the same as we consulted on in October, but a proportion of the savings are attributed to other funding streams. (£181k)