September 23 2014 Latest news:
Sam Blewett, Reporter
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Havering’s cabinet members have unanimously backed budget proposals to cut £60million of services and to increase council tax by 2 per cent annually over the next four years.
Only two opposition councillors at the Town Hall meeting last night proposed any real alternatives to cuts that include drastic spending decreases to libraries, social care and youth services.
Ukip leader Cllr Lawrence Webb (Gooshays) said: “There’s a lot of emphasis on cuts with the threat to cut our funding. I wonder what ways there are to increase revenues.”
But Conservative council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey (Emerson Park) assured this had been looked into and other credible alternatives would be seriously considered.
Independent Residents’ Group member Cllr David Durant (Rainham and Wennington) looked to raid the reserves to prevent cuts to frontline services.
He said: “We shouldn’t be rushing to make a variety of cuts when there’s a council tax increase and there’s money in the reserves.
“And we don’t have to do it all in the first year because things may change.
“The Conservatives [in parliament] face a defeat. They will definitely lose if they don’t change their stance on austerity.”
But Cllr Ramsey strongly opposed the possibility of spending reserve funds to keep services afloat.
He said: “We have a responsibility to balance the budget. If you use reserves now then they are gone and you have to find that money and the same again the following year and that’s a road to ruin.
“That’s no answer to our current situation.”
After a discussion between the pair that nearly became heated Cllr Ramsey brought a swift end to the debate.
He said: “I can’t let you continue because you are completely off the beam.”
A full debate on the budget will be heard on Monday when the administration is quizzed by the overview and scrutiny committee.
For a full report of last night’s proceedings, see the Recorder out on Friday.