THURROCK Conservatives have accused Labour of ‘shirking their responsibilities’ after the Labour administration this week passed a budget containing a £2.4M ‘black hole’ which they propose to fill with unspecified cuts to be decided later this year.
48 hours after the budget was agreed, the Thurrock Tories are still troubled by the budget and believe that the ruling Labour group are storing up trouble.
Labour are budgeting to spend £2.4M more than the council will earn in grants, council tax revenues, and other income. The difference will be funded initially from reserves with the intention of identifying cuts and savings later.
Conservative deputy leader and finance spokesman Cllr Rob Gledhill said:
“In previous years we have had a full debate in the run-up to the budget about what savings need to be made and where. This year Labour have ducked the issue and handed the whole problem over to council officers to sort out later. They are shirking their responsibility to Thurrock residents and that’s just wrong.
Last year Labour had to take a total of £4.7 million from reserves and ‘in year savings’ to balance the books, and next year they are starting with a £2.4 million budget black hole they are already plugging with reserves. Unless they completely review the way they spend taxpayers money, and what it is spent on now, more difficult and unpalatable decisions will need to be taken in future to make ends meet.”
Conservative Leader Cllr Phil Anderson said:
“Labour’s failure to set a balanced budget this year shows a breathtaking lack of political leadership. The council’s reserves are there to make sure we can cope with unexpected events; not as some kind of piggy bank to be raided so that Labour can avoid making difficult decisions. If Labour don’t want to shoulder the responsibility for setting a proper balanced budget, they should stand aside and allow the Conservatives to do it instead.”