Kirklees budget 2015: Conservative proposals

Conservative group leader Robert Light.
Conservative group leader Robert Light.
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The Conservative Party’s budget proposals include a council tax freeze, saving Kirklees’ libraries and devolving more powers to district committees.

The Conservative Party’s budget proposals include a council tax freeze, saving Kirklees’ libraries and devolving more powers to district committees.

Group leader Coun Robert Light criticised Labour’s proposed budget and said his party offered another way.

He said: “We believe there are important changes to be made with how the council delivers its services and that they can and must be provided differently and at less cost.

“However, the mass scale decimation of services in certain communities is totally unacceptable. We believe that by prioritising what the council does differently, we can protect many universally provided services.”

The party said it could afford to save all Kirklees’ libraries by moving Huddersfield Library to a more cost-effective location in the town’s centre, cutting the budget for union officials paid for by the council and cutting mileage expenses available to council officers.

Coun Light said that after these changes were implemented it would be possible to pay the living wage to all council staff.

He also said the proposals would allow for a three-year freeze on council tax.

Devolution of many services to Kirklees’ four district committees was central to the proposal.

Coun Light said: “We believe real devolution is about transferring the power and budgets to local areas and trusting them to allocate resources and prioritise what is delivered for their communities.

“Under Conservative plans, for the first time since 1973, local communities will have a real say about what is provided in their areas.”

Key proposals:

• Three-year freeze on council tax.

• Libraries to remain open.

• Mobile library service to remain open.

• Huddersfield Library to be moved to a more “cost-effective” location in the town centre.

• Libraries to have multiple uses.

• Library redundancies would “not be necessary”.

• Cut back on the budget for union officials paid by Kirklees Council.

• Cut mileage expenses for council officers from 63p per mile to 45p per mile.

• Devolve responsibility for parks and open spaces, libraries and museums, highways and Streetscene, seasonal weather, and planning enforcement and town centre management to Kirklees’ four district committees.

• Devolve £2.5m to each district committee, a total of £10m, to be used for capital projects during the next five years.

• Reduction in the number of members of Kirklees Cabinet.

• Local elections to be held every four years, with every seat up for grabs, rather than a certain number of seats being contested each year.

• Living wage for Kirklees Council staff after changes are implemented.