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Lib Dems Support SNC Budget but Highlight Failure to Protect Services

March 2, 2018 11:55 AM

Liberal Democrats did not propose any variations to South Northants Council's budget proposals Wednesday night as they believe the 3% increase represented a balance between affordability and the protection of frontline services. Whilst supporting the budget, Liberal Democrats voiced their disappointment that the Conservatives have not engaged effectively with their colleagues across the county to protect vulnerable and at risk residents within South Northamptonshire.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Lofts in his role as opposition leader said: "I am relieved that the administration has recognised the need to reverse some of the previous cuts to staffing levels and is now investing in the resources needed to meet the challenges of our growing district."

Councillor Chris Lofts did however raise areas of concern, commenting: "The medium term financial plan shows a big gap in years to come and the underlying trend is a negative one. SNC has already done much to reduce costs and streamline services so there is little room for further efficiencies. The council needs to find new ways of generating income rather than relying on cost cutting if services are to be protected."

Liberal Democrats welcomed proposals to open the door to local investment that could offer a much better return than the current low interest rates. Councillor Lofts said: "Investing wisely, in for example property, is something this council has been traditionally very reluctant to do. Liberal Democrats welcome the promise for the council to be more politically inclusive and Liberal Democrats look forward to joint working that delivers real results."

Councillor Lofts also gave a word of caution: "The Liberal Democrats main concern is the impact of events unfolding at County Hall in Northampton. There is no way of estimating the likely outcome of the mismanagement of Northamptonshire County Council's finances on either the residents of South Northamptonshire directly, or indirectly through pressures on SNC budgets. The worst case scenario for our residents will be the imposition of Government commissioners to run NCC, resulting in more swinging cuts to services and an imposed Local Government Re-Organisation. If this happen South Northamptonshire's budgets and financial plans will be history."

Concluding his remarks, Councillor Lofts said: "Much has been made in this chamber of the need for sound financial planning, effective partnerships with others and the advantages of having a single political party running most of local government in Northamptonshire. I ask, therefore, how has the party which runs this council, allowed such a position to develop whereby the main sufferers will be the disadvantaged residents of Northamptonshire?"

Chris Lofts Campaigning