The Bristol Liberal Democrats have made a final plea to Mayor Marvin Rees and the Labour Council Group to set aside political loyalties and to back their amendment to save libraries, parks and other public services.
With the budget set to be debated at City Hall, the Mayor’s proposed budget would continue his programme of public spending cuts, putting the future of seventeen Bristol libraries, parks and green spaces, and school building programmes at serious risk.
The Bristol Liberal Democrats have identified the Mayor’s £50 million worth of proposed borrowing as a key source of revenue to find frontline public services. The extra £50 million in contingency borrowing in the proposed 5-year budget seemingly ignores the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts over the period, and would simply act as an extra contingency plan for an unlikely Armageddon scenario. The Liberal Democrat amendment represents the largest budget amendment the council has ever considered and would take money away from extra reserves and into frontline public services.
Tim Kent, the Finance Spokesperson for Bristol Liberal Democrats and Councillor for Hengrove and Whitchurch Park, will move the motion in the chamber:
“Politics is about choices – those are not my words but those of the Mayor. We fundamentally disagree with the Mayor that £50 million should be borrowed over the next 5 years and held as a capital contingency fund. This contradicts DCLG advice, it is poor management, poor economics and the wrong choice for this city. That money is not free.
“To achieve this unneeded contingency around £2.5 million will be cut from services and must be paid off for the next 50 years. The total cost of this £50 million contingency is around £120 million in interest and repayment. A debt that we will not just be paying, our children won’t just be paying but our grandchildren will.
“Our amendment has steered away from the controversial and political point scoring. We have focused on the essential and unearthed the hidden. We are funding what is needed and cutting what is not. There is no good reason to vote this down. Only bad political reasons.”
Anthony Negus, Liberal Democrat Councillor, for Cotham ward said:
“I appeal to Labour to take this opportunity to save services in Bristol, instead of letting party loyalties get in the way of their responsibility to the people of this great city.”