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Labour opposition calls for release of budget as ruling Coalition fractures

Councillor Neil Barnes, Labour’s shadow finance spokesperson.
Councillor Neil Barnes, Labour’s shadow finance spokesperson.

Chaos at the top of the council threatens the setting of its annual budget, say leading opposition councillors, prompting their request for early release of the council’s budget proposals.

In the past 48 hours one Tory Executive Member has been sacked, one has resigned and another failed to support the council leader at last night’s Executive meeting on a key vote.  This is in addition to the two Lib Dem Executive Members effectively sacked by Tory council leader David Carr late last year.

Labour’s shadow finance spokesperson, Councillor Neil Barnes said with so much discord and antagonism between and within the Coalition parties, it remains unclear whether they can finalise and approve a budget.

He comments:

"Council budget papers are due to be released in the middle of next week as part of the next Executive agenda. Opposition councillors are prevented from seeing these until as late as possible to limit their ability to prepare an alternative budget.

“As chaos reigns in the Tory-Lib Dem council leadership, I am today calling for release of the budget papers immediately, to enable all parties to start work on preparing their budgets.  Such is the ill feeling between the ruling parties, for all we know one of these alternatives may be the budget the council ends up approving next month.  Stranger things have happened.

“Early release of the figures would offset huge risk around the council budget if opposition councillors were able to see the proposals even just two or three days earlier. That way we can be better prepared to tackle any financial problems that might be the result of failing working relationships at the top of the Council.

"We need to avoid a scenario where one half of the ruling administration decides to table a budget amendment to proposals from the other half. If that happens then the game is really up for this administration.  

“It’s the job of the opposition to hold the administration to account – if the Coalition can’t hold together to put forward a joint budget proposal for opposition scrutiny, then they are letting the city down and must question what they are doing in power”.

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