Every household in B&NES is only too aware of the cost of living. Choosing to eat or heat a home is what many are facing due to the rise in prices. Yet this Lib Dem administration has set the coming year’s budget of £127 million by forecasting for inflation at 2%.
Green Party Cllr, Joanna Wright (Lambridge) asked why the council had used Office for National Statistic figures of 2% when everyone knows that the Bank of England sets inflation and already forecasts rises of 5% to 8%. Cllr Joanna Wight said “the Leader and Deputy Leaders are asleep at the wheel and senior management is using obfuscating economic language. We all know the coming year is going to be traumatic for every section of society and residents deserve better. Inflation has been buried in this budget and it will cost approximately £10 million in extra money or in savings.”
Cllr Joanna Wright also asked about the Adult Social Care Precept and if in the new agreement with HCRG, the private equity firm that has been allowed to buy out Virgin Care and run adult care services in B&NES will include inflation in their costs? The details of the changes in contract are unclear and as all councillors are legally responsible for the sign off of a budget, it would seem that they still do not have enough information on how care services will be managed. The much needed detail for scrutiny of this Lib Dem budget creates a situation where Green councillors are unable to make informed decisions to sign off their legal responsibility.
The Lib Dem’s also included thousands in the budget for the city centre security measures so that access to the city centre can be made by those driving and holding blue badges. The Green Party has repeatedly called for fair access for all in the city centre and recognise that the serious surface issues creates a hostile environment for anyone with accessibility issues. However, paying someone to maintain a barrier nine hours a day seven days a week for cars to access this space does not level up the city centre. Cllr Joanna Wight has repeatedly called for a long term solution to fix the city’s accessibility issues. Cllr Joanna Wright says “rather than fix access issues, the Lib Dem’s have u-turned on their sustainable vision for Bath. Over the next few years the Council will now spend thousands of pounds on maintaining barriers for car drivers. This money could have been used instead to make the space fairer and safer for all, creating a sustainable people friendly space fit for the future. This budget decision is literally frittering money away that could have been invested in a vision to open up the city centre safely and fairly for everyone.”
The Green Party abstained on the budget vote and think that residents deserve better.
For further information contact Cllr Joanna Wright 07582 749865