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Wyre Forest council opposition set spending alternatives
COUNCILLORS' allowances should be slashed, senior management costs cut and a tourism officer introduced according to Wyre Forest's opposition parties, who have tabled alternative spending plans.
Labour and Liberal and Independent group members admitted spending cuts were unavoidable as they forwarded suggestions to the strategic review committee for consideration at its meeting next Monday.
The Conservative administration's 2014/15 budget of £11.5 million - down £1 million on this financial year - has already been fixed, so opposition members could only propose different ways to spend the money.
Independent Community and Health Concern leader Graham Ballinger said the same alternative proposals had already been unsuccesfully tabled by his group at last November's council meeting.
Labour and Liberal proposals say independent remuneration panel recommendations to slash councillors' allowances should be implemented to save £47,000.
The Labour group wants to introduce a marketing and tourism officer, who would promote Wyre Forest, take over the role of town centre manager and help the council generate more income.
Fran Oborski, the committee's Liberal representative, said original proposals to charge blue badge holders to use council car parks were "unfeasible" and suggested introducing a special-rate day ticket for disabled drivers to use across the district.
Both parties have opposed Conservative plans to freeze council staff pay for two out of the next four years. Labour wants to keep an existing proposal to raise staff pay each year and the Liberals are also against freezing pay and have suggested changes to sick pay and three days unpaid leave per year should be considered instead.
Senior management roles could be shared with other authorities if Liberal proposals are accepted.
Labour leader Jamie Shaw said: "The cuts are unavoidable and we are trying to be positive within an overall scenario with which we are most unhappy.
"Either your amendments get accepted, as the Liberals do every year, or you initiate the debate and you might find later what you proposed comes true."
Mrs Oborski said she thought her group's spending proposals were fairer and helped more people than the Tories'.
Mr Ballinger said: "I am pleased Labour and the Liberals are coming up with proposals we put forward previously. Given they are our proposals anyway, we will wait and see what happens."
Conservative leader, councillor John Campion, said: "The opposition amendments vary only slightly from the administration's, so the gap between us is very small and that is testament to the excellent work done over the past year. We will look at them very carefully."
Final spending plans will be rubber stamped at a council meeting on February 26.
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