LABOUR cabinet members have reacted angrily to the Tories’amendments to the Thurrock Council’s budget for 2012/13.
The Tories put forward – and lost – a series of amendments at Wednesday’s full council meeting.
Speaking on Thursday (1 March), Cllr John Kent, Leader of the Council, said: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing last night.
“A year ago the Tories forced through changes to the budget at a minute’s notice and they’ve tried the same again this year.”
In particular the Tories were suggesting the council could save an extra £3.7 million by reviewing its bus subsidy, its school bus funding and community transport.
Cllr Andy Smith, cabinet member for transport, said: “The subsidies we have for buses ensure routes which may not be ‘commercial’, but which are invaluable for many people, can keep going.
“Bus operators, understandably, only want to operate on routes and at times when they can make a profit. By putting our money in to support lesser-used routes we make sure those who do not have access to cars, still have access to public transport.”
He added: “Our home to school bus services are another invaluable community asset, allowing parents to know their children will get to school safely and on time – while they can get to work.
“This also cuts the number of vehicles in and around our schools, making the roads there safer.
“I can’t believe the Tories want to end these subsidies … but they obviously do.”
And Cllr Lynn Worall, cabinet member for Communities added: “TransVol provides an invaluable community transport service and although its name was not mentioned in the Tory amendment, have no doubt: it was the target of their swinging axe!”
She said: “There are thousands of people who rely on TransVol’s superb service. Its funding is already reduced as is every other charity and public authority, that can’t be helped at the moment, but Thurrock’s Tories apparently aren’t satisfied. They, apparently, want to swing the axe harder and slash even more from this over-worked service. I simply won’t have it.”
Cllr Kent concluded: “Last year the Tories managed to squeeze through their mealy-mouthed amendments. This year they tried to do the same, but members are not stupid. They saw how much wrath was stirred up last year; how much anger and hurt people felt when their jobs were put on the line with no notice – they saw through the emperor’s new clothes.
“Thurrock Council said ‘enough is enough’, we are not going to approve stupid, party-politicking, and pointless changes to the budget which have not had a moment’s scrutiny.”