22 February 2012
York’s Green Party budget proposal involves scrapping the Labour leader’s proposed £1m ‘Delivery and Innovation Fund’ in order to reduce the severity of the cuts to the most vulnerable in York. The Green amendment would reverse the cuts to voluntary sector organisations such as The Salvation Army and Future Prospects, as well as planned cuts to neighbourhood working, youth work and ‘smarter York’ budgets for dealing with the effects of anti-social behaviour. Greens say that the proposed new fund is ill-timed and undemocratic, being available as a personal ‘Leader's pot’ for use on unspecified projects up to £100,000 without public accountability.
Green Group leader Andy D’Agorne said, ‘Government cuts are going to really hit the vulnerable in York in spite of the efforts of the Labour administration. Labour are pushing ahead with the ongoing privatisation of care services for the elderly as one of the main ways to save money.” Cllr D’Agorne says this move will drive down staff wages and morale and reduce the quality of service for the city’s most vulnerable who depend on council services.
“Labour should be working more with staff unions, voluntary and community organisations to create new ways of delivering these services rather than privatising care services and axing most of the council’s neighbourhood work,” commented Andy D'Agorne.
The Greens are also critical of Labour slashing budgets for whole departments without publishing the staffing and service plans that arise out of those cuts.
“Plans to restructure the team responsible for tackling grafitti and work in neighbourhoods were due to be published in October, but now will not be made public until after the staffing budget for the work is due to be halved in the council budget. This is undemocratic and presents the city with a ‘fait accompli’ with the local environment being the main casualty. These cuts will greatly increase fear of crime, anti-social behaviour and problems for the elderly who are still living in their own homes,” said Cllr D’Agorne.
Ward budgets that have been spent on services for the elderly, summer activities for young people and volunteer clean up campaigns will also be axed if the Green amendment is not accepted at full council.
“Ward budgets have already been halved in the eight years I have been a councillor and now Labour plan to slash what is left by a third overnight, reducing them to an amount that will barely cover a handful of schemes.”
The Greens are also opposed to the plan to cut money spent on prosecuting shopkeepers selling alcohol to under-age drinkers and plans to spend £200,000 as a contribution towards a ‘closed circuit cycle track’ at the University. “This budget proposes further cuts to funds for cycle training that help young people stay safe on our roads," said Mr D'Agorne, "yet Labour can afford to waste money on an off-road facility for sports enthusiasts who will mostly drive out to the centre.”
Cllr Andy D'Agorne