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Labour negotiates its priorities into the council budget.

Updated: May 11

Last night (Wednesday, 7 February, 2024) Bedford Borough Full Council met to set the budget for the coming year.


Deputy Labour group leader Councillor Sue Oliver, spoke on behalf of the group.


The Tory administration has finally realised the damage their party has inflicted upon local government finances over the past 14 years, and struggled to allocate budgets. The Labour Group negotiated hard over the past six weeks to get our priorities included in the Capital Programme and the Revenue Budget.

 

At the Labour Group’s request, the Tories agreed to shelve their extravagant Leisure Village plan, cutting their proposed borrowing by £12.75m and saving the council tax payer having to repay that with interest. We agreed that some borrowing for socially worthwhile projects was sensible, and that cuts from their own chaotic Conservative party in government had left the council no choice.

 

In the capital programme, we welcome funding to keep Daubeney School open as a Secondary, with new buildings; to progress a long awaited Health Hub in Kempston; to improve both Bedford and Kempston Town Centres; to establish a Muslim Cemetery; and to bring the existing leisure centres throughout the Borough up to standard, amongst other projects.

 

The Tories had cut the entire Councillor Ward Fund from the budget. This is the only money councillors have at their disposal to fund projects in their Wards, and we absolutely refused to concede to this cut. Saved at the last minute by some extra funding from Government, the Tories agreed to allocate £400k for the Ward Fund and improve the administration of it.

 

Humbled by their discovery that the Bedford Borough council budget has indeed been cut to the bone, like other Local Authorities the Tory Executive admitted they had to increase Council Tax by 4.99% (the maximum allowed without a referendum).

 

By negotiating with the new administration, the Labour Group made sure all our main concerns were addressed and included in the budget.


Listen to Cllr Oliver below:



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