The amendment you have before you represents hours of work and deep research. Our deliberations took into account both the benefits and the consequences of the amendment. We considered whether we shouldn’t even try to get our amendment through, again though after long discussion we knew that we owed it to the electors in Suffolk to try and mitigate the harsh effects of the administration’s financial cuts.
First let’s dispel the falsehood that the reserves are somehow sacrosanct, that they are there to safeguard us from a rainy day catastrophe. They are what it says on the tin, reserves. to be used and replenished as the requirement demands . So let’s look at the one aspect, that of replenishment.
Since 2010 the reserves have been increased as the Councils budget has reduced Every year we have been told that the reserves would be utilised to meet the budget requirements. Every year they `have been not been used but increased. Last year our amendment asked for £11.68m to be used from the reserves. I remembered being howled at and sneered at by the Party opposite for being so “irresponsible” and yet guess what? At the 2013-14 outturn £11m was added to the reserves. Councillor Bond likened me to an Italian Ice Cream seller as only he could, but despite his erudite and skilled oratory It was this side that had the facts right.
And the facts are that Last year’s amendment would not have cost us a penny out our reserves they would have remained constant and Children’s Centres would have remained open adult social care and CYP spending would have benefited, Libraries would not have had to cut book stocks and probably more important many valuable skilled jobs would have been saved. And our overall reserves would have remained the same.
We are pleased to see that this administration were able to bring themselves to take advantage of the Chancellors advice and supplement Council Tax by 2%, this despite their much repeated pledge to not increase the tax whilst they had power because the administration keeps its word . This pledge made in the same breath as the one not to cut front line services, WELL TELL THAT TO THE FIREMEN, ASK THE CHILDRENS CENTRE WORKERS, ASK THE STAFF IN OUR SERVICE WHO ARE TRYING TO PROVIDE THE SERVICES YOU PROMISED WITH FEWER RESOURCES ASK THE RURAL BUS SERVICE USERS AND ASK ALL THE RESPONSIBLE HARDWORKING HOUSEHOLDERS WHO NOW HAVE TO PAY EXTRA TO HAVE THEIR BINS EMPTIED. They don’t believe a word you say
This climb down isn’t reckless taxation but common sense, even George Osborne has realised that council Tax is a legitimate tool in maintaining financial viability. I know the Leader will jump up and down quoting figures from years ago and use words like feckless and irresponsible but let’s not forget that this government is still creating more debt in its six years of cruel mismanagement than all previous labour governments put together And This administration has made thousands of skilled local government workers unemployed, skills lost never to be replaced and still it goes on.
If we don’t take great care Central Government will start eying up our reserves in the way they are already counting the proceeds of the prospective pillaging of our pension funds.