Cornwall Liberal Democrats have slammed Conservative budget proposals that will come before full Council on February 22nd as an “abject failure of leadership” that shows no concern for those most in need in our Cornish communities.
The Conservative proposals will remove funding for essential Children’s Outdoor Education Centres, put in danger the hydrotherapy pool at Polkyth whilst failing to support leisure centres under threat of closure, and do nothing to address the growing cost-of-living crisis, driven by a huge hike in energy bills, that is engulfing those least able to afford.
The Liberal Democrats will firmly oppose a budget that is designed to reflect the priorities of the discredited Conservative government in Westminster rather than addressing the urgent need to help out hard pressed families who have struggled with the emotional and financial implications of Covid or to protect the health, wellbeing and life opportunities of our children.
Working with Independent colleagues we have put forward a series of targeted amendments that will address the worst failings of the budget and support the most vulnerable in our society. These include:
- Saving Children’s Outdoor Centres by providing £215,028 in 2022/23 and ana additional £115,028 in 2023/24 from the Sustainable Financing Reserve
- Keeping the Polkyth hydrotherapy pool open for another year, by providing £45,000 of funding (also from the Sustainable Financing Reserve), whilst a permanent solution is found.
- Injecting £400,000 into the fuel poverty voucher scheme operated by Cornwall Energy Plus that is proving a lifesaver to families having to choose between eating and heating. This would be funded by using a part of those Covid grants that can be rolled over.
Edwina Hannaford, Leader of the Lib Dem group on Cornwall Council said,
“Once again, Conservative proposals for Cornwall fail to look out for those most in need and show an abject failure of leadership from a Conservative administration who, with all six MPs in Cornwall AND a Conservative government, have run out of excuses and people to blame for their short comings.
“The Liberal Democrat budget proposals represent an emergency intervention to address its most serious failings only. An attempt if you like to grab some of the most precious things from a burning building. If the Conservatives continue to govern in such a reckless and haphazard fashion, there will be a need for many more interventions to come.”
“The worst thing about this budget is that if the Conservatives had not insisted second homeowners from outside Cornwall receive Covid hospitality grants they would not need to make any of these cuts.”
Councillor Leigh Frost, Economy lead for the Lib Dem group said,
“This budget is yet more evidence of the Conservatives loose relationship with the truth. Nationally, they are led by a Prime Minister, mired in sleaze who, as everybody now knows, has presided over a culture of ‘one rule for them and another for us,’ and a government only to happy to break promises form raising national insurance to failing to protect pensions.
“Locally, it seems the Conservatives have taken their cue from ‘the Boss’. In the run up to the local elections in May the Conservatives complained that ‘now is not the time to be putting up Council Tax,’ and yet here we find ourselves on the other side of the elections with essential services being slashed AND Council Tax being forced up by a Conservative party who has nobody to blame but themselves.
Either the Conservatives are now finding that governing in Cornwall is a lot harder than electioneering, or they flat out lied to local residents about their intentions around council tax.”