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Lib Dems Demand Some Good News from Budget

February 6, 2003 12:00 AM

Liberal Democrats on Bedford Borough Council have proposed key changes they want to see to the cabinet's budget to introduce some good news. They branded the proposed budget as a catalogue of bad news for local people. Lib Dems argue that it fails to address key issues including the release of council reserves, provision of a coordinated transport and parking strategy and introduces new stealth taxes.

The Budget is due to be discussed at tonight's Full Council meeting.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Michael Headley said:

"We have put forward positive ideas for the Mayor to consider to improve this budget. As it stands local people will be hard pressed to find any good news in it. The budget just hasn't been well thought out."

"There is a parking strategy that sees the loss of the Aspects Park and Ride at the same time as short stay parking charges in the town centre go up 40%. And with £37 million in reserves it is ridiculous to see savings from last year being added to these reserves instead of funding improved services. Even the future development of Kempston Pool has been put in doubt. What I would like to have seen is a budget that really puts something back into the borough. Instead we have the introduction of stealth taxes on environmental services and shoppers car parking."

He added:

"We believe the budget fails on a number of key points, which we will raise tonight. For instance how can they propose a budget for recycling without any plan for how they are going to do it from April! There are just too many loose ends. We will be quite happy to work with the Mayor to review his proposed budget to overcome these shortcomings but we will be unable to support the budget as it stands. What we need is a budget that offers value for money for local tax payers not one that's not properly thought out."

Liberal Democrats are proposing that the cabinet reconsider the budget in time for the next council meeting on 26 February. This is exactly what is set out in the council's constitution and is now part of the timing of the budget setting process under the new Mayoral arrangements.