• Devon County Councillors vote through £35m of budget cuts

    19th February 2016 | News | Claire
  • There was a protest demonstration by parents who wanted to see the retention (quite understandably) of the school crossing patrol service. Two of the mums (one of whom was asking for her local school to be retained) addressed the council very eloquently at the beginning of the meeting and urged councillors to vote against the proposals.

    There were amendments proposed by my non-aligned group, the libdems and the labour group, all of which were aimed at retaining the school crossing patrol service, but these were voted down by the conservative majority.

    Now cash-strapped schools will be responsible for funding the patrols.

    Ottery Primary School’s patrol is at Tip Hill which is a dangerous crossroads and where the lollipop lady was recently knocked down by a car. Rather demonstrating the necessity of the service…….

    I am also really concerned about a potentially very big increase in council tax this year and how this will hit people very hard on the lowest incomes.

    Just the DCC element alone is an increase of 3.99 per cent, which is equivalent to more than £40 extra a year for a band D property. But this sum doesn’t include fire, police, district councils or town and parish councils – all of are almost certain to raise their own council tax fees.

    Benefits are frozen of course, so will not keep pace with the increase in costs. So those who have nothing will almost certainly struggle….

    A cunning plan it would seem, by George Osborne, to shift the blame of inflation to local councils and public sector organisations that are desperate for funding so have no choice but to raise council tax.

    It is really quite distasteful what the Conservatives at central government are doing to public services – and to people on the lowest incomes – who will, as usual bear the brunt of both the service cuts and tax increases.

    My speech ranged from the importance of school crossing patrols, the increase in council tax, the impact of the public health budget cuts and a plea for more funding to be given to the Citizens Advice Bureau next year, by DCC. A service that you really don’t know the value of until you need it….

    An avalanche of hardship is making itself felt – and the coming years will be harder and harder. We need to protect vulnerable people from the worst excesses of this vindictive Conservative government – which is apparently deeply prejudiced against the poorest people in society.

    Below is the webcast. The names and speakers don’t yet align (will be fixed soon apparently), but if you want to see my speech it starts at 01.49.45.