Politicians clash as county council budget is agreed
POLITICAL leaders clashed today as Conservatives gave their approval to the county council's next budget.
Shire Hall bosses have vowed to freeze council tax and maintain investment in services which help the vulnerable despite having to deal with a £20million cut in government handout in 2013/14.
However, the Liberal Democrat group leader Jeremy Hilton questioned the administration's budget, asking if the rhetoric surrounding the protection of adult social care services from cuts was nothing but 'spin'.
Cllr Hilton (Westgate, LD) asked: "Is this not just spin? Yes there will be no cuts in the adult social care budget but there will be no increase either – there is no new money."
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"You may have protected adult social care from the cuts but you have not invested any additional money," he said.
Councillor Mark Hawthorne (Moreland, C) rejected the claim and told the meeting of the cabinet in Gloucester that prioritising services for the vulnerable had only been made possible by making savings elsewhere in the council.
He said: "We have consistently said that we will try and protect the vulnerable in this county and that is something we are very proud of in that we have managed to freeze the adult social care budget.
"I wait with great anticipation to see the Liberal Democrat's own budget proposals."
The council has committed to making savings to the tune of £35million next year.
They will include £2.1million from terminating a contract with Gloucestershire Police to provide additional police officers and £1.2million from the ongoing redesign of the county's Fire and Rescue Service.
Costs will also be cut by getting rid of some job posts in different council departments.