West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, Cllr. Giles McNeill, has welcomed the support of a number Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors who voted to support the district council’s Conservative administration’s budget.
The proposals will see an average Band D property pay an extra £6.03 (3%) a year raising a total of £31,000 for the district council. Cllr. McNeill said:
“Local government has been the frontline of the UK Government’s efforts to put the public finances in order. Since 2012/13 the council has made savings of £4.77m and have identified, and will realise, a further quarter of a million of savings in 2019/20. However, further savings of £1.663m need to be achieved by 2022/23.
“With that in mind the council’s Conservative administration presented a balanced budget which would ensure the council’s books balance both in the coming year and the next; and substantially narrow the deficit in future years.”
The budget also announced West Lindsey’s Conservatives’ ambition to continue to support the communities of the district with the creation of a new £500,000 Community Grant Scheme over the next three years.
Despite the challenging financial environment this did not stop the opposition from playing politics, referencing the acquisition of a leasehold in Keighley, West Yorkshire, the Leader of the Opposition sought to stop the council investing monies on commercial ventures outside the district. The effect of this proposal would be to generate a deficit on the budget of £600,000. Councils are obliged to adopt only balanced budgets (i.e. income and expenditure must be equal). To do otherwise is unlawful. Challenged by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the council’s audit committee to say how such a gap would be filled the Leader of the Opposition had no proposal. Put to the vote the motion fell. Cllr. McNeill commented:
“One of my responsibilities at the district council is as the Conservative Group’s Chief Whip. It is therefore very pleasing when we are able to get support for our policies on a cross-party basis. I think it shows that we are governing for the whole district, doing our very best for everyone.”
The administration’s budget was duly passed with support from Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, without amendment, with 22 in favour, 8 against and 2 abstentions (4 members were absent from the meeting).