Milton and Beaches Lib Dems

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What is the County Council for?

by Barry Platt on 16 April, 2013

County councils exist to ensure that certain services are available to the residents of their area. Cambridgeshire county council is currently run by the Conservatives; the Liberal Democrats are the main opposition.  The Conservatives have just increased the council tax by 2%.

Are the Conservatives doing a good job of providing basic services?

Hardly.  They are trying to do away with bus subsidies altogether.  They have cut support for youth clubs.  Services for adults with mental health problems are also being cut.  The number of pot holes on our roads, and the temporary nature of the “repairs” to them, shows that the money is not being lavished there.  These are just examples of basic services, for which the council is responsible, that are suffering. The money is also not going to schools.  Schools in Cambridgeshire have received more than £7 million government money under the Liberal Democrats’ Pupil Premium payments targeted at disadvantaged pupils, but the Conservative-run county council’s contribution has been to ask schools to pay for more of the services that used to be provided free of charge.  The county council is responsible for most of the primary schools in Cambridgeshire and the amount schools receive per pupil is the lowest in the UK.

So if the money is not being spent on basic services where is it going?

The county council has saddled itself with the fall-out of its ill-fated Guided Bus fiasco.  While it has proved to be useful to those who live along its route, what has clearly been a disaster is the contract for building it.  Conservative councillors at the time assured anyone who would listen that the contract was so watertight that there was no way it would cost the council a penny more than the original price. Move forward to today and there is a court case pending to decide how much of the estimated £100million overspend the council (or all of us as council tax payers) will have to find.  Meanwhile the interest charge on the sums outstanding amounts to £2million per year, and the legal fees paid in the last year alone total £3m. Together this accounts for all of this year’s county council tax increase. Meanwhile, the Conservative councillors thought they were doing such a good job that they tried to give themselves a 25% increase in allowances.  Although the increase for all councillors did not get passed due to a technicality, the Conservative leader of the council did come away with a hefty rise.

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