Lib Dem alternative would save children's centres


Cambridgeshire deserves better.

For the past 6 years Cambridgeshire residents have faced relentless cuts and falling standards in our public services.

The Liberal Democrats will support public services and in particular reverse the cuts to children's centres.

Our local hospitals are struggling to cope with increased demand, with delayed discharges well above the national average at 522 bed day delays in the most recent set of figures, (the national average being 399).

Our roads are deteriorating year on year, with more potholes, more uneven surfaces, and more accidents.

The quality of the air we breathe is poor in the cities where it is measured, but across large areas of the County we have no idea how bad it is, as there is no measurement.

Half our children’s centres are facing closure, with young parents being expected to travel longer distances to access support services.

Reductions in bus subsidy mean residents in our villages who do not drive are cut off, with many villages having almost no bus service left. Failure over several years to build up rural bus networks has left many villages with little or no public transport.

Families of 16-18 year olds face huge transport costs as subsidy of post-16 transport has been cut at the same time as the school leaving age has increased, leaving families with costs of hundreds of pounds, which they have no choice but to pay. 16-18 education and training transport has been eliminated, at the very time that the school leaving age has increased - putting a high financial burden on families, while also reducing choice for less well-off students, who are no longer able to afford the travel to their chosen post-16 centres.

This record of falling standards has become a political choice by the Conservatives now in control of Cambridgeshire County Council. For the past 2 years the Council has had the option of raising more money locally to support local services. Across the Country local councils of all political colours have taken the chance to support local services. Cambridgeshire has been almost alone in not taking the clear indication from central government that we should use the options open to us to support local services.

This year the Liberal Democrats are again proposing that we should be doing all we can to provide support to our public services here in Cambridgeshire. We believe that the cuts have gone much too far, and that Cambridgeshire’s residents deserve better.

The first task to be tackled in this year’s budget is to deal with the £4.3 million deficit left by the budget pushed through by the Conservatives last year. Each year we have seen promises made about how the numbers of children and vulnerable adults needing care would fall. Yet every year there have been deficits in either the children’s or adults budgets, and this year in both. This is no way to run a council responsibly and it cannot continue.

However while tackling the deficit is an urgent priority, we feel that investing in better services for Cambridgeshire residents is also urgent. Cambridgeshire’s residents are fed up with paying more and getting less. They need to see that their council tax is giving them a better standard of service.

Below is a list of the extra investment in public services we would make, paid for by removing the Conservatives' "smoothing" fund which takes money from taxpayers just so that it can sit in the council's bank account rather than funding services that people need.

Service

Additional Resource Allocation £000 18/19

Special Educational Needs (P&C)

275

Reverse Children’s Centres savings (P&C – A/R.6.224)

772

Reverse Children’s Centres savings (C&I – F/R.6.110)

128

Adults Social Care investment (P&C)

500

Reverse further Adults Services saving (A/R.6.177)

282

16-18 Bus Pass (P&E)

500

Additional Bus Subsidy (P&E)

500

Highways and Footpath Maintenance (P&E)

426

Local Highways Improvements & Street Lighting (P&E)

500

Air Quality Monitoring (P&E)

25

Member Services Saving (LGSS)

-256

Total

3,652


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