Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council have welcomed the news that the Conservative group have at last seen sense and recognised the urgent need for an increase in council tax.
However, the Conservatives will squirrel the money away into a ‘smoothing reserve’ rather than use it straight away to invest in roads, street lighting, and services for children and older people.
The Liberal Democrats have argued for the past two years that the council’s priority should be protecting services. Lib Dem group leader Lucy Nethsingha says: “While I am relieved the Tories have seen sense at last and recognised that they cannot continue to make ever greater cuts, I am also very disappointed that they have waited until now to make this decision.
They have known for several years that the government grant would be cut, but have failed to raise the income they need to protect services.
They have known for several years that our roads are getting worse, but they have cut the budget for local highways improvements by one-third.
They have known for several years that the need to support vulnerable children has been increasing, but they have cut the budget for children’s centres by £900,000.
They have known for several years that the population is ageing, but they have continued to allow the NHS to take the strain.
The Liberal Democrats would use the increase in council tax to stop the children’s centre closures, to support the NHS, and to increase spending on road maintenance, street-lighting and gritting.