West Berkshire Council should invest in our local economy.
This week, at the Liberal Democrat party conference, I made a speech about the need for more ambitious local authority funding, with reference to the horrendous cuts to services we are seeing in West Berkshire. West Berks District Council is the epitome of un-ambitious when it comes to finding ways to pay for much-needed services like libraries, buses and respite care for families taking care of children and adults with mental health issues.
The cuts are entirely ideological, being imposed by George Osborne who believes in providing minimal government support for society, and enacted by West Berkshire Conservatives, who largely agree.
As a Liberal Democrat I wholeheartedly disagree with both the conservative ideology and the way that our local authority and MP are caving in without a fight. For instance, in a letter to the Newbury Weekly News last week Councillor Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) claimed that Councils have four options only to solve the current problems: to increase charges for services, to increase council tax, to cut internal costs, or to reduce local services.
This is not true. Authorities across the UK, from Swindon and Basingstoke, to Eastleigh, Portsmouth and North Yorkshire, are engaged in positive schemes to generate income which they are using to cushion the ‘George Osborne effect’.
In my speech to conference, I highlighted the ambitious, imaginative approaches taken by Eastleigh and Portsmouth Councils, back when Liberal Democrats were in charge.
Clip (33 secs):
Here is the full speech (03mins 20secs):