Bedford Borough Labour Councillors are calling on Bedford & Kempston MP Richard Fuller, Alistair Burt, MP for North-East Bedfordshire and Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire to petition Chancellor George Osborne to stop the proposed cuts in the money given from central government to the council.
Labour Group Leader Sue Oliver said:
“We’ve already had five years of reduced funding and have worked hard to protect our frontline services by restructuring and making savings wherever possible. Now the government grant to the Borough Council is to be cut even further and more steeply than ever before, from £28.3m this year to £6m by 2019/20. It’s just not possible to take on the extra responsibilities being handed to local authorities, ensure we protect services for vulnerable adults and children, and continue to provide a full range of other local services such as libraries and bin collections with such a lack of funding.”
“Even if we reluctantly agree to an increase in Council Tax, it can in no way make up for the shortfall. The Labour Group of Borough Councillors has written to our local MPs to ask them to stand up for their residents and tell their Conservative Party leaders these cuts are wrong.”
Deputy Group Leader Carl Meader stated;
“Legally the council has to agree a budget, but to do so under these circumstances means councillors will be forced to make decisions about jobs and services that don’t deserve to be cut and will be missed. We’ve never been more outraged by the demands being placed upon local councils by this Tory Government. They are cutting funding far too quickly and by far too much. It’s time for our elected representatives in Parliament to stand up for all of us and tell the Chancellor that enough is enough.”
All 14 Bedford Borough Labour Councillors signed letters to the MP's - e-mailed and posted Friday 11th September. There has been no response so far. The letter was as follows:
Labour Borough Councillors would like to express their concern, and indeed anger, at the estimated reduction in the Revenue Support Grant allocated from central government to Bedford Borough Council.
We are writing to ask for your support in objecting in the strongest terms to the further damaging cuts being inflicted upon the services the council provide to the people of Bedford & Kempston.
We consider the estimated reduction in the grant from £28.3m in the year 2015/16 to a mere £6m by 2019/2020 to be reckless, and totally impractical in the face of ever increasing demands on public services, particularly adults’ and children’s social care.
Furthermore, the Council is in the process of trying to set a budget for the forthcoming financial year. The fact that the Local Government Settlement will not be formalised until after the Autumn Budget Statement leaves us only a few months to make decisions. This exacerbates the pressure on councillors and council officers who are trying to deliver efficient and vital services to the population of Bedford Borough - including the most vulnerable in our society – whilst having to decide which of those services and jobs will have to be axed in order to cope with these savage cuts in funding.
Local Government has already been forced to deal with a 40% cut in funding since 2010. Thus far Bedford Borough Councillors have sought to protect our frontline services by redesigning services and making redundancies. It is not possible to make the further savings being demanded without it impacting on frontline services. These cuts will be noticeable to everyone throughout the Borough.
As the Member of Parliament for Bedford & Kempston we call upon you to object in the strongest terms to the Chancellor and to the Department for Communities and Local Government. These cuts go too far, are being made far too quickly, and will potentially endanger the wellbeing of residents of your constituency.
We would welcome your support and anticipate you will act with conscience and endeavour to protect your constituents from these excessive ideological cuts to local government funding.
However, if you support this further harsh reduction in spending, and will not vote against it, we would like to hear your suggestions as to how our local government services should be delivered. Which services do you consider to be superfluous? Should we cut our libraries, environmental services such as grass cutting & bin collection, or stop repairing our roads and pavements?
We keenly await your reply on this issue.