Camden Council's budget debate, on 28 February 2011, saw Labour present a budget that would result in the closure of nurseries, early play services, libraries, day centres for the old, information centres, sports centres and more. Labour also plans to slash money to the voluntary sector, to mental health services and a host of other areas. They blamed this on the lack of central government funding and failed to take responsibility for the political choices they have made.
Using Council figures, Cllr Don Williams backed by Cllr Roger Freeman pointed out that “total government funding in 2011/12 is almost exactly the same as 2009/10” – a good year for government funding. This makes it clear that central government is not the prime reason for Labour’s cuts. Their actions are politically motivated in an attempt to embarrass the government at residents’ expense.
Cllr Williams demonstrated that extracting further efficiencies from Town Hall bureaucracy, developing Camden’s revenue streams and re-configuring services to get better value for money, it was possible to protect services and reverse all the proposed closure of front line services in 2011/12. For example, the deletion of 8 Unison (union) posts in Camden would save thousands of pounds which would save Belsize library, help to keep one nursery open or save Mornington sports centre.
Labour have protected the Unions and not front line services that serve the people of Camden.
Conservatives have shown that in future years, by intensifying efforts to restructure Town Hall while re-configuring services to get best value for money, Camden could continue to provide a high level of service with no need to raise Council Tax.
Cllr Mennear, the group’s leader, stressed that Labour had a choice between standing up for residents and protecting services or continuing to blame the current government for Gordon Brown’s mistakes and protecting unions.
Labour voted en masse to retain hundreds of thousands of pounds of Council paid Unison posts while actively preparing to cut libraries, day centres for the elderly, nurseries, sport facilities and mental health services.