Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Avril Davies responds to Bucks CC proposed budget - the transcript

These are the published minutes by Bucks CC.

'The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson [Cllr Avril Davies] presented views on the proposed budget which had been well presented by the Leader. 

They complimented the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Commissioning Committee, the Strategic Plan and Draft Budget Scrutiny Review Group which had been an excellent process and highlighted concerns with some aspects of the budget. 

The Group did not disagree with the Strategic Plan but were interested by which means and methods the key objectives would be achieved. Some of their concerns included being sustainable, achieving full potential of young people, protecting the vulnerable and dealing with a complex budget with changes in the funding formula. The Group supported the freeze in the Council Tax but expressed concern that this was not a progressive tax and that people in lower bands pay more than they should.

They supported the use of balances and increased income. Fully sustainable transport modes should be encouraged as roads were an important asset. Businesses need roads to distribute goods and to support the economy. 

They had always believed that money should have been borrowed to maintain this asset, particularly as the Council would be borrowing money for the EfW plant. She commented that EfW was the right idea but in this case was the wrong solution in the wrong place with the wrong contract and wrong numbers being put forward. This was why it was being looked at through a Judicial Review.

The commissioning model for social care was a risk. Transport, social care and children’s services was a fragmented model. Some staff could be very demoralised with this model in place. Whilst it was important to deliver savings, the Liberal Democrat Group did not believe it was the right model.'

Avril Davies

Monday, 11 March 2013

Avril Davies responds to Conservative ruling group annual budget

As deputy group leader of the Bucks county Council Liberal Democrats Ivinghoe Division councillor Avril Davies was given a few hours notice that she would have to respond to the Conservative ruling group annual budget recently (14th February).

The Lib Dem group had discussed the budget and two members including our group leader had taken part in three days of examination of the budget in public by a scrutiny panel.

Times have never been harder for Local Government, faced with disproportionate cuts to its funding from central government.

As a group our priority lies with people. Our  main criticisms of the budget in acknowledged difficult times are that the £180M cost of the Calvert energy from waste plant, mostly funded by borrowing, should be invested instead in the Bucks depreciating road network  to support employment, business and the economy.
There are waste plants strategically placed around Bucks borders which have the capacity to take the Bucks steadily reducing waste stream, and cut down on the miles the waste would need to be transported by road, and it would be a cheaper option.

Choosing a Rolls Royce  model of waste disposal takes more than its fair share of resources, resulting in care services to the elderly and learning disabled unacceptably exposed to risk. Although our alternatives could not release a great deal of funding  to support inproving the quality of these services, this is where our priorities lie.

Clegg speech to 2013 Spring Conference (from The Guardian.)

"The longer you stand side by side with your opponents, the easier your differences are to see," said Clegg. "We don't lose our identity by governing with the Conservatives. The comparison helps the British people understand who we are."
Party managers admitted the conference – against the backdrop of sex allegations against the party's chief executive Lord Rennard and a grim trial involving former cabinet minister Chris Huhne – could have been a disaster if Huhne's old Eastleigh seat had been lost in the byelection.
A poll of UK-wide marginals, commissioned by Lord Ashcroft and published on Saturday, showed the party losing 40 of its 57 seats. Officials said that, but for Eastleigh, the poll would have generated stories of a Clegg-led wipeout.
Instead, a confident Clegg was able to use his speech to attack his coalition partners, saying the Tory leadership knows it needs to stay on the centre ground to have any chance of speaking to ordinary people's concerns.
He said the leadership "just can't manage it, no matter how hard they try. They're like a kind of broken shopping trolley. Every time you try and push them straight ahead they veer off to the right-hand side."
He warned Theresa May, the home secretary, that as long as he remained around the cabinet table, he would not allow the proposal of British withdrawal from the European convention on human rights.