Lib Dems: “Improve front-line services by cutting top salaries and consultants, and improve services for older people by cutting PR”

February 11, 2011 9:24 AM

On Thursday Liberal Democrats called for Guildford Borough Council to cut the cost of senior management and consultants and spend the money on improving front line services instead. They wanted to scrap the Council's 'About Guildford' newspaper, and spend more on services for older people, including re-opening the Riverside Centre. Whilst welcoming the proposal for a freeze in the Borough's council tax, Lib Dem councillors argue that tax-payers' money should be spent on residents' priorities.

At the Council's Budget-setting meeting, Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Fiona White proposed sharing senior management with neighbouring authorities, and seeking a 10% cut in the salary of the Chief Executive and Strategic Directors. She also called for a cut of £100,000 in the money allocated for outside consultants, currently more than

£1/3 million across the council. The Lib Dems proposed that the money saved should be used on the Council's environmental services, including street cleaning, litter collection, and refuse and recycling services. In recent surveys across the borough, a large majority of residents told Lib Dem campaigners that these services should be top priority.

Cllr White says "It seems only fair that the top management at the Council should take their share of the pain, as a gesture of goodwill to Guildford's council tax payers. I proposed two years ago that we could save by sharing management teams with neighbouring authorities, as other councils are now doing, and I am disappointed that Guildford's Conservative-run administration has not even looked at this. And I'm sure outside consultants could survive if we spent less on them. Lib Dem councillors have been knocking on doors asking residents what are their top priorities, and the message comes back loud and clear. People want cleaner streets and higher quality environmental services - they want the Council to take more pride in our borough."

Liberal Democrat councillors are dismayed by the loss of town-centre facilities for older people, with North Place Day Centre closed at Christmas and the loss of Age Concern's Riverside Centre last year. Their proposal to scrap 'About Guildford' would have freed up funding to enable the Riverside Centre to be run as a community resource once more, providing a town-centre building for activities for older people and the wider community.

Cllr Anne Meredith, Lib Dem spokesperson for Finance and Resources, says "People tell us 'About Guildford' reads like a Conservative propaganda sheet these days, and they resent their council tax paying for it. At the same time we've seen the Council slash services which benefit older people, including the loss of the town centre shuttle bus as well as North Place Day Centre. The logical solution is to scrap 'About Guildford' and spend the money opening up the Riverside Centre for community use once more."