Budget update: Milton Keynes faces £20m funding cuts

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Community groups including scouts, brownies and cubs have been thrown a lifeline after the council agreed not to slash funding.

At a budget meeting on Wednesday night, the Liberal Democrats and Conservative councillors voted to amend the draft budget, to ensure these groups would not lose out.

Around £80,000 worth of grants to help community groups rent premises were set to be chopped.

SEE MORE: Milton Keynes budget special: threat to funding and services

Tory and Lib Dem councillors also opposed the withdrawal of funding to winter gritting and landscape services.

As a result of the heavy opposition, this funding was reinstated and the draft budget plan agreed.

Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Ric Brackenbury, said: “We’re pleased that thanks to the amendments, grit bins will stay stocked, roads cleaned more often, groups such as the scouts supported, weeds cut and grass mown.

“The budget’s not quite as bad as it could have been, but there’s no getting away from how painful these cuts will be – we need a very different settlement from government to set a budget to match our aspirations.”

Leader of the council Pete Marland, commented: “We are making some tough choices in really difficult times, I’m glad MK Council was able to pass a balanced budget.

“I understand that with £20m in cuts and a five per cent council tax rise, some people will be upset at the choices we have made.

“I’m angry too that we are facing these cuts and we did make some significant changes on wider use funding for organisations like the Scouts.

“Despite that I think people can see what we’re trying to achieve with more funding for homelessness, more investment in social care and improving children’s services.

“Ultimately people want to know we’re spending their money as best we can, and I think our budget does that given the stark challenges we face.”

However the council did not consider an additional SEVENTEEN amendments suggested by the Conservative party.

These included the reconsideration of the CMK parking permit hike, preventing a new resident parking charge of £25, assurances on bus services, investing in white line paiting and road signs and taking on 100 more council apprentices.

Leader of the Conservatives Edith Bald, said: “After a long and exhausting debate, the Conservatives voted against the budget, but despite that, the budget went through easily due to the combined vote of Labour with the Liberal Democrats.

“It was clear throughout that an agreement had been reached between the two parties, before the meeting, to vote down all but one of our proposals to improve the budget.

“The astonishing thing is that despite MK Conservatives identifying that money was available to fund all our amendments, the Labour/Lib Dem coalition refused to support them.

“That is playing politics and I think it’s deplorable. What’s really happening is that both parties are storing up funds for next year when there are elections.

“It’s wrong and we will make sure the electorate know about it.”