Bristol councillors approve mayor George Ferguson's first budget which includes £35 million cuts
Bristol mayor George Ferguson’s first budget which includes £35 million of council cuts has been passed after nearly six hours of debate.
The decision means more than 300 jobs will be lost from the council’s 7,000 workforce, of which about 100 are likely to be compulsory redundancies.
Council tax bills will go up but less than two per cent which means the average increase will be about £30 a year.
Most council taxpayers in Bristol live in Band A to C homes which means they will see their bills rise by less than 50p a week from April.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Mr Ferguson opened the debate with a 20-minute speech in which he said: “I guessed that there might be anger in the public gallery today because some people feel so passionately about various issues so let me say up front that I share your anger to a large extent.”
He said he was angry that the bulk of public spending cuts had falled onto local councils and flagged up that the amount he was forced to save rose from £28 million to £35 million in just a few days.
But he said he passionately believed in what was possible, what was practical and what was deliverable.
He warned councillors: “If we don’t set a legal budget, then a Whitehall apparatchik can come in and take a knife to our services without a second thought.
“I simply won’t contemplate the luxury of making that kind of gesture when the people who would pay for it would be some of the most vulnerable recipients of the services we provide and the committed carers and staff who provide them.”
Most of the Liberal Democrats supported Mr Ferguson’s amended budget, together with the Tories. But Labour councillors decided to abstain.
Most of the controversial issues were sorted out in cross-party reviews during the consultation period in the run up to the meeting in the council chamber at City Hall.
These included the reinstatement of 32 PCSOs (police community service officers) who were axed in the original proposals, saving Bristol’s nightbuses and not going ahead with car parking charges at Blaise and Oldbury Court estates, and putting £50,000 back into the Community Transport budget.
This left only three amendments which were debated and approved yesterday. They included delaying - instead of scrapping - the building a new swimming pool in East Bristol and a new waste recycing centre in Hartcliffe.
The delays will give council officers and councillors a chance to find new funding arrangements during the next 12 months.
Councillors agreed to save the Adult Leisure Learning Service from closure.
It had been under threat because the Green Party wanted to scrap the service in order to protect the homeless.
But the Lib Dems put forward an amendment to take money from a contingency fund as a one-off measure for one year to continue protecting the homeless and therefore save the learning service from being shut down.
A further amendment was also passed which saved cuts in the auditing department which saves hundreds of thousands of pounds a year by detecting benefit fraud.
Most of the savings - nearly £20 million - come from leaving council posts vacant; changes in working practices and conditions; early retirement packages and reductions in management staff.
Mr Ferguson warned that a further £65 million worth of council cuts will have to be made during the following three years.