At the latest budget meeting at the Town Hall, Lib Dem council group leader, Nick Sandford, said his party have consistently opposed the Tory plans to close (or “redesignate”) children’s centres.
Lib Dems have consistently supported moves to review the policy and look at alternatives.
“We think this Tory policy shows they have the wrong priorities and are making the wrong choices,” Nick said.
“They would rather handover £2.2 million to their contractor Amey for grass and tree cutting, rather than spend half of that on keeping children’s centres open. We are paying over £100,000 a year to some senior officers and big special responsibility payments to cabinet members but they have so far failed to come up with any alternative proposals. They seem to expect the public and service users to do it for them.”
Nick also said that the Lib Dem group have a totally different set of priorities to the Tories and that is why we didn’t want to make minor amendments to their budget….we wanted to see it thrown out and a more sensible set of proposals developed.
But Lib Dems were not able to support an amendment put together by the Independent Group because it was cobbled together at the last minute and could have led to even more closures of children’s centres.
“We got the Indies’ so called amendment less than three hours before the meeting. They wanted to slash a third off the budget of every children’s centre. A report from officers said that the impact of this was uncertain and could threaten the viability of some centres.
“And at the full council meeting several members of the Indy group started arguing with each other about their own amendment. It was a total shambles. Goodness knows what might happen if they ever got a real say in running the Council.”
Councillor Darren Fower, Lib Dem representative on the scrutiny committee which looks at children’s services, added:
“The majority of our group stood up and opposed the Tory budget plans, unlike some opposition groups! I myself, have consistently shown clear opposition to the plans to close the children’s centres throughout the Peterborough.
“But the thought of supporting a last minute budget amendment, where figures were unclear and un-assured, would have been nonsensical and shows how politicized the whole issue became as a result of unsecured promises from Labour and Independent councillors, to the parents!
“I can assure our activists and supporters across the city, that the Lib Dem group will never blindly support a proposal, that’s unfounded, not evidenced and created solely to give an impression of care!
“I note now that several of the parents have publicly signed up to stand for election for the Independent Group, I hope they realize the number of Tory sympathizers in that group? The whole thing is very ironic!”