Making a difference for the better
Councillor Michael Watson has set out Labour's alternative budget for Broxbourne.
Councillor Watson spoke in support of the opposition group's budget speech at a meeting of Broxbourne Borough Council:
Madam Mayor, the two budgets before us this evening represent the clear differences between the two political parties represented on this council. One is a radical blueprint to respond to the needs of our borough and the wishes of its people. The other represents the stagnated thinking of a party in power with no idea what to do with it, and most criminally of all, have forgotten that their purpose is to serve the wishes of the people that elected them to office.
A year ago I said that the ruling group were the do-nothing party. Maybe they listened to me, Madam Mayor, because they have slightly changed their approach over the previous year. Of course, whenever they face a policy challenge, such as improving our town centres or keeping the Open Air Pool open, all we hear is what they can't or won't do.
No comments on what the people want them to do, or what is best for our communities.
But now they have learnt that do nothing parties are not popular. So instead we have the half measures party. Small measures in Hoddesdon town centre are supposed to have resolved years of neglect. Even less looks on the cards for Waltham Cross. Offering half a hope to the campaigners that want to keep the pool open, whilst making the council's conditions so stringent, and its offer of financial help non existent, to ensure that it can never be successful.
I don't think people will be fooled by half measures either.
This council has amassed a colossal reserve of over a hundred million pounds of taxpayer's money. Madam Mayor, where they see an opportunity to do nothing we see an opportunity to improve our borough and put it on a sound footing for the future as we begin a new decade.
Talk is cheap when it comes to law and order which is why our budget proposes a huge increase in funding for police support officers.
It's vital that we empower councillors to respond to the needs and wishes of the people that directly elect them, so why are not just talking about it, we are showing how it should be done.
Half measures are not good enough for our town centres, and that's why we want to allocate ten millions pounds to regenerate Hoddesdon, Waltham Cross and the old pond. Yes it's radical, but it is what's needed.
We won't give up on Hoddesdon Open Air Pool, and for the second year in a row we have allocated the money to keep it open.
In addition it is unacceptable to allocate money to the already substantial reserves whilst cutting front lines services.
So our budget, unlike the ruling group's, does not reduce three posts from the environmental health team.
We are in difficult economic times, Madam Mayor, and as such given the huge amounts of taxpayer's money accrued in the reserves, it would be wrong not to try and relieve the immediate financial burden on our residents. It is therefore only right that we use the money saved by our campaign on expenses, to cut the council tax for the people of this borough.
We can do this because of the unprecedented funding for the council by the government since 1997.
Madam Mayor, I know the ruling group will object to our plans because they prefer to sit back and admire the stash of taxpayers' money they have accrued. But we believe that the people of Broxbourne pay taxes in the expectation that their council will spend the money to make their borough a better place to live. Our budget would do exactly that, and for that reason I am delighted to second the Labour opposition's alternative budget.
- Councillor Michael Watson
Report filed 06/04/2010
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