Opponents' attack on 'baffling agenda' and 'two-fingered salute'
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson's first attempt at balancing the council's books has not made him popular in some quarters.
The red-trousered architect who romped to victory in the mayoral elections is now at the centre of a storm over his proposed £35 million budget cuts which will see hundreds of council jobs axed.
Several Labour politicians have been very critical of his proposals. The party was offered places in Mr Ferguson's cabinet, but chose not to take them.
Bristol South Labour MP Dawn Primarolo said Mr Ferguson had an agenda which was "baffling" while the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance said the mayor was "completely out of touch with ordinary people" and accused him of using "slash and burn" tactics.
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Ms Primarolo said: "He tells The Post he wants to make Bristol the 'European capital of circus' whatever that means – while slashing frontline policing."
She said the council took the right decision to invest in PCSOs (police and community support officers) and joint working between the council, police and health authorities was never more important than now.
She said: "PCSOs have done tremendous work in working with communities where there has been an historic distrust of the police, and made a real and lasting contribution to reducing crime and anti social behaviour. Cutting PCSOs is a false economy and, heaped upon Government cuts to our police, will make our streets feel less safe. Bristolians from across the city will be telling the mayor he must think again."
Robin Clapp, spokesman for the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance, promised "a relentless series of lobbies, demonstrations and direct actions" against the cuts.
He said: "With a further £65 million scheduled to disappear from funding for children's services, housing, transport, recycling and care services over the next three years, these cuts will have deep and immediately harmful effects upon the most vulnerable in our city.
"Services to the young, the elderly and the infirm are once again being sacrificed so that the rich and powerful in this country can continue with their gold-plated lifestyles.
"Gone are the honeyed words that promised a new approach to running local government.
"Predictably Ferguson has revealed himself to be a loyal lieutenant of the Coalition, dutifully endorsing the closure of threatened care homes and daycare centres, handing out 100 redundancy notices and getting rid of another 250 posts, raising council tax by almost two per cent and slashing the grant to community transport providers.
"Funding for PCSOs is to be chopped, a new swimming pool in east Bristol is being mothballed and in a two-fingered salute to his new Green Party cabinet allies, he's scrapping Hartcliffe's proposed new recycling centre.
"Thousands of Bristolians will be appalled by this budget carried out by a Mayor who is completely out of touch with ordinary people."
Former Labour leader Peter Hammond accused Mr Ferguson of a "triple whammy" of cuts.
Mr Hammond, who represents St George West ward said Mr Ferguson's plans to cancel the new pool at the Brunel Academy in Speedwell, confirm the exclusion of the Kingsway Youth Centre from future funding and sack council-funded PCSOs were simply unwarranted.
Eileen Means, Labour candidate for Henbury ward in the local elections in May said residents were furious over plans to charge for car parking at Blaise Castle Estate.