War of words between North Tyneside Conservative and Labour groups over budget proposals
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Labour-ran North Tyneside Council has announced a series of cuts and savings ranging from outsourcing school meals, a council tax hike, and charging £30 a year for garden waste collection.
The moves aim to prevent the budget deficit from spiralling to £49.9m by 2028, starting with an attempt to find £19.2m of efficiencies from next year.
Home-to-school transport is also expected to be streamlined to trim down its £2.9m shortfall. In addition, the council is set to introduce a £300 “administration charge” for estates that can bear the cost of a pauper’s funeral.
The Labour councillors have said while they did not want to make the cuts and introduce new charges, current spending was unsustainable thanks to central government cuts, inflation, and the cost of living crisis. The Labour group also claimed the budget will help protect front line services and the most vulnerable residents.
The council has maintained a fund to help the worst affected with their council tax. Despite the cuts and hikes, £3.7m still needs to be found to complete the £19.2m target.
Now, the North Tyneside Conservatives have hit out against the budget accusing Labour of fiscal mismanagement, lambasting the new cuts and charges for council services.
Leader of the North Tyneside Conservatives, Cllr Liam Bones, said: “In this budget, residents are paying for a decade of Labour’s financial mismanagement. Council tax up, council rents up, and they will even charge more to bury you when you die.
“Meanwhile we see millions spent on cycle-paths and other vanity projects across the borough. In this budget, Labour say they cannot afford to provide school meals but they can afford to splash the cash on the next photo opportunity.”
The 8km cycle lane from St Mary’s to North Shields referred to had been paid for by an external £11m grant from the Department of Transport and the cycle organisation Sustrans.
Cllr Bones continued: “Residents deserve a council that will put their priorities first. It is clear that this Labour Council will not do that.”
The Labour group has responded by claiming Tory economic mismanagement, and a lack of central government funding has led the local authority to the financial position it is today.
The council has seen over £127m disappear from its coffers since former Prime Minister David Cameron took office in 2010.
A Labour spokesperson said: “This is a budget which protects front line services, keeps our leisure centres, libraries and parks under public control, invests in our region across the borough, and provides vital support for those most in need.
"Because of Tory government cuts, tough decisions need to be made not just in North Tyneside but in every council across the country.
“Had we accepted the proposed budgets from North Tyneside Conservative councillors over the past decade we would now be bankrupt. So we will take no lessons from the Conservatives.”