Rob Flello slams coalition as Children’s Centres set to close

Rob has reacted to the Budget consultation that has today been released by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, expressing his deep concern over the “credit card coalition” and the lack of leadership from the City Independent group on the authority.

“The most eye-catching proposal is of course a 3% increase in Council Tax for every one of the next three years”, said Rob, “which when you add it together means that a Band A property will pay almost £145 more into the Council’s coffers over that period and a Band B property around £169.  Residents will rightly want to see some benefit, yet in the very area where much of this extra funding is supposed to be used – adult social care – we will see yet more cuts.

“But as you look further through the proposals you see the true impact of the Tory-Independent coalition’s plans for the city.  We see for example that Children’s Centres will close across the city, and the City Council’s Co-operative Working agenda, which has been roundly praised and received strong early success, are going to be decimated, with the loss of over 150 jobs across those two services alone, plus a further 30 currently vacant posts that won’t be filled.  These are crucial front-line services that will be greatly missed by those who need them.”

The City Council is having to find £61m of savings in the next three years, in addition to the £150m that has already been identified, however additional pressures have resulted this year from the coalition’s decision to raid the authority’s reserves last year rather than produce a proper budget.

“The chickens really are now coming home to roost”, Rob continued, “as last year’s reckless budget has simply meant that more savings now have to be found this year instead.  I understand that the leader of the City Council said barely more than two sentences at this morning’s briefing, leaving it to the Tory deputy leader to present the proposals.  We now effectively have a Tory council imposing Tory Government cuts, and look at what we are left with.

Rob also said “ I am also seriously concerned that so much of this budget depends on further capital investment to be able to make the savings promised.  Even if we make the savings, we are burdening future generations in our city with nearly half a billion pounds of debt; this is like piling money on to multiple credit cards in the hope that the situation will pick up.  You would be very unwise to do this with your personal finances, so we should not sit by and watch the City Council do it with our city’s future.

“The coalition need to explain how their Budget is anything more than a series of vanity projects and speculative investments and the City Independents – and particularly Dave Conway – need to show some backbone and take back control of the authority from their increasingly over-confident Tory buddies who are hell-bent on imposing the Government’s austerity agenda”.