• Hugo Swire claims £50m cuts to Devon County Council will mean spend increases!

    20th February 2015 | News | Claire
  • Claire Wright, the Independent candidate for the East Devon constituency and a Devon County Councillor, has ridiculed the current MP, Hugo Swire, for his claim that the county’s spending power would rise. He claimed that it would increase by 0.6 per cent which was “a good deal for East Devon”. 

    In fact, Devon County Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor John Clatworthy, confirmed at yesterday’s county council budget meeting (19th February) that its budget has been CUT by central government by over 13 per cent. 

    Claire Wright said: “Earlier, I challenged Mr Swire to speak up for and vote for the people of his constituency in the House of Commons debate on council grants. When he did neither, I accused him of being cowardly and callously indifferent to the needs of local people. He responded with this outrageous claim that spending would rise and accused me of “a wild and imaginary headline-grabbing spending spree”. He accused me of failing to look at the “hard facts”.

    “Mr Swire, here are the facts. You cited “spending power” which includes money that Devon County Council doesn’t even receive. At the council meeting, the Conservative Deputy Leader, John Clatworthy, confirmed that cuts of £46 million will be made in the year 2015/2016 as the county is confronted by a reduction in grant of over 13 per cent.

    “John Hart, the Conservative Leader of the Council, said that cuts totalling £210 million would have to be made by 2017.  Councillor Clatworthy blasted his own party’s government ministers. He said “Cameron, like Pickles, is out of touch”.

    Speaking to the county council , Claire Wright noted that just a few hours before the Parliamentary debate on county grants, the Conservatives held a fund-raising function in London, where the price of a table was up to £15,000. Over £2 million was raised. “Are we really all in it together, Mr Cameron?” 

    “Last week, the debate raged about big business avoiding tax payments of millions of pounds. That money could have been used to fund our public services, our libraries, children’s services, bus services and road repairs. What is the government doing about big business tax avoidance? Very little. Instead, ministers prefer to blame local authorities for the public services cuts meted out by them.

    “John Hart said recently that reductions will continue until well into 2018. What will local government and local services look like by then? Will the citizens of this country be abandoned by the state because of the ideological drive to shrink the state and, instead, let our precious public services be run by the markets?

    “The press release issued by Mr Swire, in which he gives grossly misleading figures, represents everything that is wrong with the central government’s priorities. They haven’t got the guts to stand up and to tell the truth to the people whom they have so let down.”

    Here is the webcast link for the Devon County Council budget meeting on Thursday 19 February, where you can see my speech – and other councillors reactions to the cuts – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/home