Our response to the Conservative council's budget

Kingston Council will set their budget for 2016/17 tonight. The Conservative’s have proposed many cuts to services as well as a council tax increase of 2%.

The Liberal Democrat’s will present an amendment to address some of these shortcomings. We believe that their budget cuts to some vital services are not only unnecessarily, but short-sighted. The key features of our amendment are as follows:

• Food waste recycling is important for both the environment and to keep landfill tax costs down. So we propose to keep the free provision of bio-bags for food waste containers to all residents to ensure maximum uptake of recycling. We don’t believe residents should have to pay for bags on top of Council Tax.

• Road maintenance is recognised as one of the most important tasks a Council undertake, so we propose to remove the proposed 20% cut to this budget, so we can repair as many roads and footpaths as possible.

• Youth centres help vulnerable and at risk children make the right life choices. They also provide a base for disabled and young carers groups. We propose not to close 4 youth centres in Kingston and instead to work on how the buildings can be properly utilised. Searchlight, Barnfield Doris Venner and Devon Way are all set to close.

• Local charities and volunteer groups need small local grants and each Neighbourhood should have access to funding to undertake small local projects. We propose to keep very localised budgets and personnel to make this happen.

• Disabled adults deserve to keep their dignity, so we propose to scrap the plan to take 100% of income into account in relation to Homecare charging policies.

• Small businesses are vital employers, so we propose to keep the ring-fenced annual contribution to the Kingston Chamber of Commerce so small local businesses can get the help they need to continue to flourish.

• The appearance of our suburban areas with grass verges is important. We propose to remove the saving that would see our verges only cut once every 3 weeks in the summer.

• Dysart special school needs a vehicular access to safely deliver their disabled and vulnerable young people to its new 6th form building, so we propose adding this into the capital budget.

• Kingston Conservatives want to sell off an ex care home that could be converted to temporary accommodation for homeless families. We propose to convert this building, helping local families and saving on the B&B budget.

• The total cost of these proposals is £1.638m

We must produce a balanced budget, so in order to pay for these we plan to remove from the proposed budget:

• Kingston Futures, the council’s planning policy and development section which promotes Kingston to developers, has a budget in 2016/17 of £4m. We propose to cut this budget by £600k.

• The Council’s ICT department has a budget of £2.65m for replacing end user devices and technology investment fund. We propose cutting this budget by £450k.

• Remove the money put aside as contingency against the planned delivery of savings in 2016/17. This does not affect the reserves that are for potential overspends in some council areas.

• The planned flood maintenance strategy is paid for from the moving traffic contraventions account (yellow box junction fines) rather than general council tax.

You can download our full amendment here.

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