Councillors Clash Over South Gloucestershire Budget
Councillors clashed at South Gloucestershire Council’s Full Council Meeting, when they convened on 14th February to set the Council’s annual Budget.
Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors refused to support Budget proposals, which included tax breaks for young people leaving the care system, funding school trips to Bristol Aerospace to inspire young people, doubling the school improvement fund, and beginning an investment fund that would plough profits into frontline services, which otherwise would need to be cut.
The same councillors then went on to vote against a bumper investment package worth over £250m, including £36m towards maintaining schools, and £38m for roads and highways, having particularly taken issue with proposals to provide 2 new schools, one in the Kingswood and Warmley area, and one a new all-through school at Lyde Green.
Conservative Deputy Leader Cllr Toby Savage said: “It is so very disappointing to see that we could not get cross-party agreement for this huge investment. I find it particularly concerning that the sticking point was a refusal to endorse building new schools in the Kingswood and Warmley, and Lyde Green areas, as these will soon have shortages of school places.”
Councillors further clashed over the transparency of the Budget process, with opposition councillors accusing the ruling Conservative administration of making the process less transparent since transitioning to the Cabinet system.
Conservative Leader Cllr Matthew Riddle said: “Our Budget proposals have been published and discussed at a Scrutiny Commission meeting, at a Cabinet meeting, and again at Full Council. When you compare this to last year’s Budget process under the Committee system, where we didn’t see opposition proposals for the Budget until 15 minutes after the meeting started. We are only required to set a Budget for this year, however we have published a four year plan, and more detailed proposals will come forward this summer, ahead of next year’s Budget.”