Lib Dems lead budget amendments at CDC

27 Feb 2024
Cherwell Budget Approved

The official opposition group of Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent councillors on Cherwell District Council – Progressive Oxfordshire – successfully amended the Conservative administration’s budget proposals at yesterday’s full council meeting at Bodicote House after their amendments were agreed by a majority vote.

Their proposals were to :

  • Delay the introduction of a charge for replacement waste and recycling bins
  • Freeze the charge for bulky waste collections, with the introduction of an extra service for residents needing faster collection
  • Freeze the charges for use of recreational facilities at the NOA, Cooper School and Stratfield Brake
  • Keep Pioneer Square public conveniences open in Bicester

The costs of these proposals will have no impact on the final council tax charge as they are financed out of a contingency fund partly created from this year’s budget surplus.

The amendments were proposed by Cllr David Hingley (Liberal Democrats) as the official opposition group leader and seconded by his deputy Cllr Ian Middleton (Green). The amendments were passed with the support of the controlling Conservative group with the Labour group abstaining on the amendments.

Progressive Oxfordshire councillors were then able to support the amended budget following the successful insertion of these changes. However Labour voted against the budget, despite providing no amendments or alternatives of their own. In effect this meant Labour were voting for the council to have no budget, which would have left it unable to function. In contrast, the Lib Dem/Green/Independent alliance were able to successfully influence the minority Conservative administration to achieve the best result for local residents.

Official opposition group leader David Hingley (Lib Dem) said :

“I’m delighted that my Group were able to successfully pass amendments to Cherwell’s budget that remove some of the pressure on residents for the upcoming year and keep open the public conveniences at Pioneer Square. Our amendments are a helpful, affordable set of proposals that show a commitment to supporting residents and to fiscal responsibility alike.

It is our primary duty on Cherwell to represent the best interests of residents and that is what we did by influencing this budget. However while Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent councillors took their responsibilities seriously and were able to pass the budget after securing these welcome amendments, it was disappointing to see Labour voting against, despite coming forward with no proposals of their own. If Labour had got their way, the council would have been left with no budget at all and ultimately been unable to function, depriving residents of the services they depend on.

Liberal Democrats under my leadership put residents first and will continue to hold the minority Conservative administration fully to account while it limps on towards the end of its term of office.”

Chris Pruden Simon Lytton Nick Cotter Lib Dem Councillors
Lib Dem Councillors Chris Pruden, Simon Lytton and Nick Cotter are proud they were able to get the amendments passed.

Deputy Group Leader Ian Middleton (Green) said :

“Our amendments were aimed at helping to reduce the cost of living burden on already hard-pressed families. The budget has a small surplus so we thought it was fair to introduce amendments paid for from that. This leaves the Conservative’s proposed council tax rise of less than 1.5p per day unchanged whilst maintaining healthy reserves to deal with future financial challenges.

As they do every year, Labour voted against the budget on principle but offered no alternative proposals. In past years, with majority Conservative control, that made little difference as the budget would always pass, but with a minority administration in charge it would have been irresponsible not to seek a compromise to keep the council on a sound financial footing.

If Labour had not torpedoed the alliance deal we offered them last year, their leader would have taken the finance portfolio giving him the opportunity to shape the budget from first principles.  But instead they gave control of the council back to the Conservatives, requiring us to negotiate a better budget outcome with them.

One group had to take the initiative. As Greens, we felt our first responsibility, along with our Lib Dem colleagues, was to our residents, rather than indulging in political point scoring and showboating.”

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