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Wednesday, 15th Feb 2017

Bristol Greens identify additional £1.7m to save vital council services

Bristol Greens have announced proposals to save vital council services after careful analysis of the council's budget due to be voted on next week. Green councillors have identified £1.7m that officers have now agreed could be used to reduce council cuts.

If agreed by other parties at next Tuesday’s budget vote, the money would be used to help reduce some of the worst cuts the city is facing, including cuts to the Local Crisis Prevention Fund which provides support for those at risk of being made homeless - this was due to be slashed by 55%.

Clifton Down councillor Clive Stevens, who identified that reallocating money earmarked to increase reserves in five years’ time could be more sustainably directed towards solving urgent budget pressures this year explains:

“This additional money can, at no extra cost to the tax-payer, be used to give parks, libraries, and those charities that support the elderly and vulnerable, many of which face a funding crisis, time to transition to a more sustainable footing."

"Bristol City Council has paid off £36 million more debt than it was required to by the government's accounting rules in the years between 2007 and 2016.  Councillors had voted to change the repayment rules in December and the Greens have now identified that £1,767,000 can be reallocated to the revenue budget for this coming year 2017/18 where it is more urgently needed, and officers have accepted that argument."

As well as taking action now to alleviate the existing crisis in funding caused by central government cuts to local government, the Greens are also looking to the future by using some of the funding to set up an Income Generation Unit to identify innovative ways in which the council can adapt to what will clearly be an increasingly difficult period for local services in major cities like Bristol. 

Cllr Stevens added; “Conservative austerity economics have proved disastrous for our country and are now severely affecting our city. Unfortunately, the combination of an outmoded voting system and weak opposition in Westminster makes it unlikely we will see the desperately needed change in approach anytime soon.”

“At the same time, this government appears to be committed to a "hard Brexit" - a move that will damage our trading relationship with the rest of Europe and will have a long term negative impact on the economy of a city like Bristol which sends 66% of its exports to the EU. Therefore it is vital that we scrutinise the council's finances robustly in order to identify every viable opportunity to reduce the impact of the government's cuts and build for the future - this budget amendment proposal is part of the Green group's commitment to that process"

ClIfton Councillor Paula O’Rourke said “We need to make Bristol more financially resilient and ultimately self-financing in order to protect the most vulnerable in our city, as well as providing hope for a secure and prosperous future for the vast majority of Bristolians. To do that we need to develop the council's ability to generate appropriate revenue in areas that the council has skills in, rather than simply being forced to continue hiking compulsory local charges. “  

"The Greens have identified this additional £1.7m of funding to help alleviate some of the worst impacts of Conservative cuts. We hope that Bristol's Labour group will support our budget amendments to help reduce the impact of government cuts when our proposal is discussed at Full Council next week."

END

Notes:

The Green Party’s proposed budget amendments to Bristol City Council regarding the £1.7m can be found here:

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