Gareth Wilson

Liberal Democrat Campaigner for Haddenham & Aldreth Learn more


by Gareth Wilson on 9 February, 2011

East Cambridgeshire Tories are stashing away hundreds of thousands of pounds for a “rainy day” while cutting grants to crucial charities across the district.

They have put almost £450,000 into a reserve account and plan to push this figure up to £1.2 million in the next four years.

The reserve fund is on top of almost £300,000 they have squirreled away for possible “future redundancies” and £1 million they plan to save in the next four years towards the district’s new leisure centre.

But at the same time they are cutting thousands of pounds from grants for vital charities including £25,000 from the district’s Dial a Ride bus service and £15,000 from Care and Repair. Ely and Newmarket Citizens Advice Bureaux have lost more than £9,500.

Liberal Democrats are furious about the Tories’ uncaring attitude and have come up with their alternative budget which reinstates the lost grants to charities while at the same time balancing the books.

“We have tried at every committee to take out the worst cuts being proposed by the Tories,” said Lib Dem Policy and Resources Spokesperson, Gareth Wilson.

Lib Dems’ Community Services Spokesperson, Pauline Wilson suggested giving the Dial a Ride services £5,000 each to ease the pain but the Tories rejected this idea as well.

She said: “The Tories have put money away in a rainy day fund but for old and disabled people who rely on the Dial a Ride services and those worried about debts and needing help from the CAB it’s raining now.”

Cllr Gareth Wilson added: “We could reinstate all the money taken away from these organisations and still have a surplus of over £370,000.”

But the Lib Dems’ budget was rejected by the Tories.

The Lib Dems have proposed additional savings by allowing councillors to claim only one allowance instead of multiple payments to which some are entitled at present, cutting members’ car mileage by seven pence a mile to the Inland Revenue’s recommended 40p a mile and not allowing councillors to claim travelling expenses to social events.

“There is no doubt that we are facing a tough economic challenge,” added Cllr Gareth Wilson, “but there is no need to build up massive reserves at the expense of the charities that are helping the most vulnerable in our community. This is not right.”

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