Planned £64m budget cuts passed by just three votes

Showing their opposition yesterday, from left, Carol Stavris, Network of Oxford Women; Michael Hugh-Jones, Secretary of Oxford Pensioners Action Group; and Cllr David Williams of the Green Party. Picture: OX65403 Greg Blatchford

Showing their opposition yesterday, from left, Carol Stavris, Network of Oxford Women; Michael Hugh-Jones, Secretary of Oxford Pensioners Action Group; and Cllr David Williams of the Green Party. Picture: OX65403 Greg Blatchford Buy this photo

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

CUTS of about £64m to services across Oxfordshire have been formally approved.

Oxfordshire County Council narrowly ratified its budget for the next four years at a five-hour meeting yesterday.

The Conservative-Independent alliance, which runs the council, rejected amendments proposed by all three of the opposition parties and approved its own budget by three votes.

It means there will be cuts of £1.5m to homelessness services as well as adult social services and transport.

County councillor Ian Hudspeth, council leader, said: “This budget is a major challenge for us and there is no way we can disguise the cuts.

“We have to be realistic and acknowledge that this is a cutting budget and it’s simply not possible to have no cuts whatsoever.

“It’s a tribute to our staff that we have been able to make the savings and still have basically the same service delivered to our residents.”

From 2010/11 to 2017/18, Government funding for the council’s revenue budget – which pays for the running of services – will fall by 39 per cent, or £96m.

Council tax will rise by 1.99 per cent to avoid a referendum, which is legally required if an increased of two per cent or more is planned.

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Around £7m will be cut from adult social care while £1.5m will be cut over two years from housing- related support, including homelessness services.

Lesley Dewhurst, chief executive of Oxford Homeless Pathways, addressed yesterday’s meeting urging councillors to reconsider.

She said: “We are pleased to hear the current proposal is to stagger the £1.5m cut to the housing-related support budget... however the overall effect will be the same in the long run. This could possibly be a matter of life and death.”

Michael Hugh Jones, of Oxfordshire Pensioners Action Group, protested outside the meeting.

He said: “People who are pretty immobile will get not nearly as much help as they used to.”

The Labour amendment ringfenced dial-a-ride, included money to fund youth workers and money for credit unions, but also had rises to charges and 10 per cent cuts to councillors’ allowances.

The Lib Dems proposed raising income by hiring out parts of County Hall and making savings by working with neighbouring councils as well as borrowing the maximum of £20m.

The Green Party wanted a council tax increase of 4.5 per cent and increased parking charges.

Its group leader David Williams said: “We believe that the people of Oxfordshire when faced with this decision on whether we really want to make these cuts against people who are the most vulnerable, the answer will be no as long as it is a small increase.”

But his assertion that a majority of people in Oxfordshire would vote for a council tax rise of 4.5 per cent was dismissed as a “delusion” by Conservative councillors.

Since last year’s election – when no party won control– the Conservatives have been running the authority in alliance with three independents, including ex-Labour stalwart Les Sibley. This meant the budget was passed by 30 votes to 27.

WHO LOSES OUT.

  • ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMY Current budget – £90.8m, Cabinet member – David Nimmo Smith, Cuts proposed – £11.2m including £350,000 from recycling centres
  • ADULT SOCIAL CARE Current budget – £292.3m, Cabinet member – Judith Heathcoat, Cuts proposed – £7.1m including a £200,000 cut to subsidies for meals and shopping, and a £300,000 cut in support for organisations like Citizens’ Advice Bureau
  • CHILDREN, EDUCATION & FAMILIES Current budget – £98m, Cabinet member – Melinda Tilley, Cuts proposed – £6.4m including £3.1m saved by children’s services department and a £1.3m cut in support for people with special educational needs
  • CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S OFFICE/ CULTURAL SERVICES Current budget – £9.8m, Cabient members – Ian Hudspeth/Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cuts proposed – £1.5m including the libraries budget cut by £250,000
  • FIRE AND COMMUNITY SAFETY Current budget – £31.1m, Cabinet member – Louise Chapman, Cuts proposed – £614,000. Crewing in Banbury could change from a 24-hour shift model to a day-crewed model by 2016/17
  • PUBLIC HEALTH Current budget – £26.7m, Cabinet member – Hilary Hibbert-Biles, Cuts proposed – £2.5m. Savings will be made by working more efficiently

Comments (4)

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5:06pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Hazel D says...

How can the leader of the Council claim that they are still delivering basically the same service to residents with such substantial cuts in funding. It's either mythical - or wishful thinking.

£64 million of cuts means £64 million worth of reduction in services - it's basic maths and common sense.
How can the leader of the Council claim that they are still delivering basically the same service to residents with such substantial cuts in funding. It's either mythical - or wishful thinking. £64 million of cuts means £64 million worth of reduction in services - it's basic maths and common sense. Hazel D
  • Score: 1

12:15am Sun 23 Feb 14

WilburTheDog says...

No it means they've been paying too much for services they could have outsourced or negotiated cheaper, or perhaps they could now run the council as a business rather than a cruise ship.
I bet they didn't cut their pensions. I also read that Cllr Malone was upset about a 10% cut in their expenses. Typical response from a free loader.
This council has more money per head than most other councils. If they were clever and worked in a more efficient way (like real business are having to do) then I imagine they could save a lot more.
No it means they've been paying too much for services they could have outsourced or negotiated cheaper, or perhaps they could now run the council as a business rather than a cruise ship. I bet they didn't cut their pensions. I also read that Cllr Malone was upset about a 10% cut in their expenses. Typical response from a free loader. This council has more money per head than most other councils. If they were clever and worked in a more efficient way (like real business are having to do) then I imagine they could save a lot more. WilburTheDog
  • Score: -1

3:44pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Rollo56 says...

The Green Party wanted a council tax increase of 4.5 per cent and increased parking charges.

Only Labour suggested cuts to Councillors rates? I notice it's the weak and the poor who are being hit the hardest, typical Tories. Liberals wanted to BORROW to pay for, what exactly? To maintain their wage and pensions?
The Green Party wanted a council tax increase of 4.5 per cent and increased parking charges. Only Labour suggested cuts to Councillors rates? I notice it's the weak and the poor who are being hit the hardest, typical Tories. Liberals wanted to BORROW to pay for, what exactly? To maintain their wage and pensions? Rollo56
  • Score: 0

3:52pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Rollo56 says...

Why do we see small Conservative ran councils, getting more per capita than larger city councils ran by Labour or Liberals?
I would have thought every body was equal and a 'net' figure per head could be used? If services are being CUT, why should Council Tax rise?
Especially when it is and has been proven, an unlawful tax?
http://youtu.be/BSdW
aQ7qdg0
We are gradually being worn down and taken over by stealth?
A lot of this stealth started many years ago, it will culminate in us being totally under the thumb of corporations, last year Cameron, as a means of keeping the public subdued, called on You-Tube to censor certain ‘clips’ those that contained, ‘people protests’?

The latest example is You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.

Peake was ruling on a case involving Roger Hayes, former member of UKIP, who has refused to pay council tax, both as a protest against the government’s treasonous activities in sacrificing Britain to globalist interests and as a result of Hayes clearly proving that council tax is illegal.

Hayes has embarked on an effort to legally prove that the enforced collection of council tax by government is unlawful because no contract has been agreed between the individual and the state. His argument is based on the sound legal principle that just like the council, Hayes can represent himself as a third party in court and that “Roger Hayes” is a corporation and must be treated as one in the eyes of the law.
Why do we see small Conservative ran councils, getting more per capita than larger city councils ran by Labour or Liberals? I would have thought every body was equal and a 'net' figure per head could be used? If services are being CUT, why should Council Tax rise? Especially when it is and has been proven, an unlawful tax? http://youtu.be/BSdW aQ7qdg0 We are gradually being worn down and taken over by stealth? A lot of this stealth started many years ago, it will culminate in us being totally under the thumb of corporations, last year Cameron, as a means of keeping the public subdued, called on You-Tube to censor certain ‘clips’ those that contained, ‘people protests’? The latest example is You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court. Peake was ruling on a case involving Roger Hayes, former member of UKIP, who has refused to pay council tax, both as a protest against the government’s treasonous activities in sacrificing Britain to globalist interests and as a result of Hayes clearly proving that council tax is illegal. Hayes has embarked on an effort to legally prove that the enforced collection of council tax by government is unlawful because no contract has been agreed between the individual and the state. His argument is based on the sound legal principle that just like the council, Hayes can represent himself as a third party in court and that “Roger Hayes” is a corporation and must be treated as one in the eyes of the law. Rollo56
  • Score: 0

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