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County council approves budget despite opposition
11:39am Friday 15th February 2013 in News
WORCESTERSHIRE County Council has approved its 2013/14 budget despite opposition from the county’s Labour group.
Councillors agreed the budget, including a council tax freeze for a third year running, at a full council meeting yesterday.
Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour tried to make last minute amendments to the budget but both were defeated.
The budget includes a pledge to spend money on social care and highways but also makes £20 million worth of cuts.
Conservative councillor Adrian Hardman, leader of the council, said: “This is not a council which believes that just because times are hard we shouldn’t be ambitious. I believe this is a budget for the people of Worcestershire.”
Councillors also voted to freeze their allowances for the fifth year running.
Councillor Liz Tucker, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, proposed an ammendment asking for a living wage to be paid to council employees, for a reduction in street lighting after midnight and for a better bus pass scheme for young people.
The group, which backed a council tax freeze, claimed the services could be paid for by axing two cabinet members.
Mr Hardman said that bus passes for youngsters was “not a high priority for the people of Worcestershire” and the amendment was rejected.
The Labour group also proposed an amendment asking for a 1.99 per cent rise in council tax.
Labour group leader councillor Peter Macdonald said that Mr Hardman had an “obsession” with cuts and that the people are Worcestershire were “seen as numbers on a piece of paper.”
The proposed rise, which was rejected, would have seen an average band D property pay an extra £20.64 a year or 40p a day.
The money would have been used to pay for a bus scheme for pensioners to allow them to use public transport before 9.30am as well as more services for young people.
Mr Macdonald said: “Have the guts to pick on the right people not the most vunerable.
“It’s only the labour party which totally believes in good quality services and they have to be paid for.”
Wyre Forest District Council is expected to approve its budget on Wednesday, February 27.