Lib Dems put forward alternative budget for North Somerset
OPPOSITION councillors in North Somerset have put forward alternative budget plans - which include sacking one executive member and charging council employees to park.
The Liberal Democrat group on North Somerset Council say its budget for 2013/14 will boost the local economy and offer a fairer deal for local residents.
North Somerset currently spends around £147 million on services a year, although its overall budget is around £410 million.
The amendments will be formally tabled at a North Somerset Council meeting tomorrow (January 15) and the final council budget will be set in February.
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Within the budget the Lib Dems want to introduce parking charges for council staff and councillors – a move which they say would save £50,000 a year.
Other proposals include sacking one of the six executive members, saving an estimated £25,000 a year and cancelling the proposed demolition of the Tropicana saving £700,000 and using the money to develop a new children's and health centre in the old Weston library building.
The alternative budget proposals also include reducing the frequency of the council's own magazine, North Somerset Life, from monthly to quarterly, saving £100,000 and transferring council owned car parks to town and parish councils, saving £100,000 a year in maintenance costs.
The budget also puts forward some investment proposals including earmarking £200,000 for a retail development project to boost independent retailers and bring empty shops back into use.
There are also plans to pump an additional £4 million into highways infrastructure repairs and measures to alleviate flooding as well as investing £237,000 into youth services across the district.
Liberal Democrats are also proposing increasing council tax by two per cent, generating an additional £1.6 million a year for the authority.
They also want car parking charges reduced and improvements made to the existing residents parking scheme in Weston-super-Mare.
The Lib Dems say the alternative budget would generate £3.2 million of savings and income for the authority.
A restructure the senior management structure of the council, including the chief executive's office, saving £50,000 a year is also put forward in the alternative budget.
Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Mike Bell, said: "Our priorities are clear: to give a fair deal to residents across North Somerset, to invest in jobs and the economy, and to focus on the priorities of local people, not pet projects or grand schemes.
"We have shown how the council can balance the budget, make efficiencies and improve services in key areas.
"We hope that the Conservative majority will listen to our ideas and implement some of these constructive suggestions."
Councillors are due to set the authority's budget at a meeting in February.