Budget is passed by ONE vote after fiery four-hour debate

Civic Offices
Civic Offices

A fiery four-hour debate over the council’s budget was fuelled by personal insults and accusations of secret meetings - but the city’s future finances were finally agreed by councillors.

A packed public gallery witnessed opposing parties battle it out to pass the buck as they debated how £22million worth of cuts should be made this year.

While Labour’s budget was backed by the Lib Dems after agreeing to a demanding amendment, the Tories refused to support it.

At 11.30pm the budget was narrowly passed with 22 votes in favour, 21 against and 11 abstentions.

All of the Liberal Democrats, except Councillor Chris Williams, abstained from voting - fuelling further rumours that there was a deal done with Labour behind closed doors.

It was agreed that there will be no new charges for residents of council sheltered accommodation, following a Citizen campaign to save the warden service.

Green waste collections are to remain free of charge, while pink sacks are to be kept until evidence from pilots have been gathered and a fully formed decision can be made.

There is good news for the 24/25 bus service, which will be retained, while children’s play areas have been saved.

But council leader Pete Marland looked to distance himself from the cuts, by claiming it isn’t the budget he wanted to pass - but the Tory government has given him “no other option”.

He voted down the Conservative amendments, but passed the Lib Dem’s.

He said: “We cannot keep pretending we can do things as we did before. We need to act as a co-operative council and deliver services differently.”

His opposition leader, Conservative Councillor Edith Bald, criticised Labour’s lack of vision and poor leadership.

While Councillor Sam Crooks, of Lib Dems, called it “a budget of missed opportunities”.

He said: The biggest opportunity that this budget has missed is to set us off on a new pathway towards a growing city that works in a different way to serve our residents, especially those who are most in need.”

“The council has to seta legal budget, so by abstaining we allowed a decision to be reached.

“We are voting on £200million - within that total sum there were things we did not agree on.”