This week’s politics column in the Times & Star was written by Leader of the Conservatives in Allerdale Borough Council, Councillor Tony Annison:
“As Conservative Leader in Allerdale Borough Council, I was delighted to be asked to write this week’s politics column. Having lived in Allerdale for 20 years, I love our area and appreciate all it has to offer. It’s a wonderful part of the world to live, work and play, but there is so much more we could do.
As the main opposition party, we have been working to shape policies that would deliver benefit to all, including hard-pressed families struggling to keep up with the cost of living. We believe that Allerdale Borough Council should play a larger part in easing that burden. Not just paying lip service in order to feel good - but doing good.
In a couple of weeks, Allerdale councillors will be asked to approve yet another council tax increase - just weeks after being asked to approve a pay-rise for ourselves.
We’ll also be asked to approve borrowing of nearly £24m for the new stadium, at a cost of £1.6m per year. Despite assurances that the stadium wouldn’t be funded entirely by borrowing, it looks set to be just that. Leading councillors shout endlessly about austerity and government cuts, while championing hugely expensive vanity projects – which is it? They can’t have it both ways.
As my Independent colleague Bill Finlay recently pointed out in these pages, this is in stark contrast to the call by our housing services spokesperson, for basic items to assist the most vulnerable in our society.
If Labour get a third term in control this May their plan, published this week, is to increase borrowing from the £10m they inherited to £44m. It’s high time we learned whether it will be funded by further council tax increases, or further cuts to jobs and services?
Residents of Maryport will rightly decry the loss of the only swimming facility in their town – that could be saved for a fraction of the increased costs of borrowing just next year alone.
Across the borough, we have seen a spike in litter and dog fouling amid street scene officer cuts; We see cuts to recycling collections, despite making recycling a priority and failing to hit our target every year; We see fewer affordable houses delivered, despite overall housing delivery increasing.
Somewhere, the priorities of Labour Councillors have gone awry. They have stopped helping people.
Just as we tried to amend the pay rise motion to freeze councillors’ allowances, and were voted down by Labour, we will attempt to amend the budget to deliver a better, cleaner, more efficient Allerdale – one that aspires to ease the burden on you.”