Lib Dem County Councillor Fiona White
Commenting on the announcement that £15.5 million of projected savings in Surrey County Council’s Adult Social Care budget is being written off, Liberal Democrat Adult Social Care Spokesperson Fiona White said “This is Tory financial incompetence of the highest order.
“It was clear from the beginning of this project that the proposed savings could not be made instantly and it would take several years to see the full effect of changes come through. I warned of problems at the time.
“Surrey’s Conservative administration has constantly made a song and dance about the tens of millions they could save through Family, Friends and Community Support and what a ‘new and innovative strategy’ it is to provide services and save money. Now they’ve had to admit they will have a massive shortfall this year.
“The £15.5 million of abandoned savings are on top of £10 million planned for next year. How they will find a total cumulative saving of £25.5 million next year has to be a matter of grave concern.
“In addition the Conservative administration are saying they can find another £1.3 million under the mattress in ‘management action saving plans’, without saying what they are.”
To make up for the shortfall the Conservative administration is having to take £14 million from reserves. Fiona White continued: “This £14 million could and should have been used to protect services in Surrey, not to plug holes in the Conservatives incompetent budget proposals.”
Cllr David Goodwin
After many years of campaigning, Surrey County Council have at last agreed to implement the 20mph speed limit and traffic calming scheme that residents have wanted for so long.
Cllr David Goodwin said “I am very pleased that my constant reminders and campaigning for this scheme have finally been acknowledged and work will be completed by the end of March. We now need to get the 20mph speed limit set up in other residential areas of the town centre.”
Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, Kelly-Marie Blundell spoke about the urgent need to review welfare reform and it’s relationship to food poverty at the Party’s Spring Conference in York this weekend.
Citing the growth in access to food banks in Guildford, situated in our constituency, Kelly-Marie’s closing address to the conference during a policy debate on ‘Food Poverty’ received unanimous support.
In her speech, Kelly-Marie highlighted that “a fairer society means no one should be forced to accept charity in place of benefits“. She drew on the fact that Guildford has recently opened a new Foodbank, and in a fairly affluent town, people are still being adversely affected, both by benefit reform and the cost of living.
The motion was supported unanimously by Liberal Democrats, calling for more funding for food banks and an imminent review into food poverty.
Kelly-Marie Blundell will be working with Liberal Democrat MPs to ensure the review is enacted, and to help publicise the range of hardship support that is available for those in crisis.
If you would like to know more about the policy motions debated and voted on at the Lib Dems Spring Conference you can do so on the national party’s website. The “Food Poverty” debate was motion F15 on the afternoon of Saturday 8th March.
Lib Dem councillors have questioned what the Tories have used the New Homes Bonus money for.
The New Homes Bonus was first paid in 2011/12 and by 2014/5 Guildford Borough Council should receive £3,446,983. of which £2,127, 833 should be in the New Homes Bonus reserve.
The New Homes Bonus is intended to be used to benefit the communities taking on additional housing and that those communities should be engaged with on how the bonus is spent.
Cllr Anne Meredith asked at the February Council meeting “Other authorities have used the bonus to finance the building of affordable homes and I have not found any information to indicate that this council is using the Bonus for this and so why not?”
The Bonus is being used by the Tories to balance the books. None of the new Homes Bonus has gone directly to the communities who have taken the extra homes.
The emerging Local Plan for the borough will be the subject of public scrutiny, thanks to the amendment put forward by Lib Dem councillors and supported by a majority of borough councillors.
In early March residents had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their concerns about the evidence base for the Plan with officers, councillors and consultants at a ‘Local Plan Scrutiny Forum Listening Event.’
The topics which received most comments and caused concern in the Issues and Options consultation were discussed in two similar sessions.
The March event will be followed by a formal Joint Scrutiny meeting in the Council chamber on 3 April where there will be further opportunity for public speakers on the night. The scrutiny meeting will debate the issues raised at the listening event and by the speakers. The resulting recommendations will go forward for consideration with all the evidence as the Local Plan is drafted. The draft Local Plan will be published for public consideration later this year.
Residents can follow the meeting either in person or through the webcast on the Guildford Borough Council website.