The budget addresses major failings in current performance on street cleaning, where the current Tory-Lib Dem council has made significant cuts in recent years; on potholes, with York roads amongst the worst in the country; and on reinstating subsidies for bus services serving villages on the outskirts of the city.
As well as an extra £1m each year to address potholes on York’s residential streets, Labour’s budget will fund a reduction in response times on fly-tipping from one week to just 24 hours. This builds on Labour’s previous environmental commitment to halve the cost of bulky waste collections. In committing to more street cleaning in our communities, Labour is showing that it shares residents’ desire to look after their neighbourhoods.
You can see more on what Labour councillors think of the budget at: www.facebook.com/labouryork/videos/1149119578603881/
Labour Group Leader, Coun. Janet Looker says:
“Labour’s budget is broad in scope yet focuses on those areas that are important to residents. There is a real sense that standards are slipping on the basics as ruling councillors engage in fire fighting on major project failures like the Guildhall and the Community Stadium. Investment on street cleaning outside the city centre, quicker responses to fly tipping and tackling far more potholes would make a noticeable difference in our local communities.
“In addition, we would address the cut in bus subsidies to help reconnect our villages with the city centre at those times of the week when the Coalition’s cuts have made services non-existent. This sends a strong message on the difference in approach of the main parties on encouraging sustainable transport in York”.
Further investments will see Labour focus on a number of areas where a lack of interest from the current administration is hitting residents and holding the city back. Against a background of the biggest wages fall in the country, Labour will establish an Inclusive Growth Fund that supports the local economy rather than simply seeing the economy as someone else’s problem. This is necessary to address stagnation resulting from an economic strategy that puts all its eggs in the basket of York Central, which remains years away from being regenerated.
Labour also focuses on the most vulnerable through extra resource for homelessness work, Citizens Advice York and a package of measures aimed at children and young people. Specific anti-poverty work includes targeting those who don’t get a decent meal each day in the school holidays as well as addressing the problem of period poverty in schools.
“We’ve seen significant numbers of York residents badly impacted by austerity, as evidenced by the huge jump in food bank use in recent years”, says Cllr. Neil Barnes, who will propose Labour’s budget, “but it impacts a lot of people in many other ways in their daily lives.
“More funding for independent Citizens Advice York services will give those impacted by Universal Credit, for example, the advice they need when they need it. Our budget also proposes to exempt care leavers from paying council tax until the age of 25, supporting a national Children’s Society campaign designed to ease care leavers’ transitions to independent living.
“On the sustainability agenda, Labour will reverse earlier cuts to the council’s trees budget at the same time as signing up to the Woodland Trust’s Northern Forest scheme which aims to plant 50 million trees across the north of England. We will also increase the capital budget by £0.5 each year for investment in schemes that support energy efficiency and moving York towards becoming a zero carbon city”.
Labour’s budget would see council tax increase by an average 30p per week on a Band D property, over and above the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition’s budget, including the same 1.5% allocated to fund adult social care.
“Our budget reflects a desire to not sit on our hands and embrace the austerity agenda as the other main parties are doing”, added Cllr. Looker. “We have some pretty appalling performance linked to our low level of funding here in York, where we’d prefer to do something about it”.