Oxford MailOxfordshire County Council budget (From Oxford Mail)

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Oxfordshire County Council budget

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  • Central government has told Oxfordshire County Council to cut its budget by £61m over the next four years.
  • The council has found savings of £64m in its budget which will be discussed by full council at 10am today.
  • This includes a controversial £1.5m cut in homelessness services and cuts in support for charities, theatres and advice centres.

3:36pm

The meeting is over.

3:35pm

The budget is passed 30 votes to 27.

3:32pm

The vote will be named which means the names of all councillors will be read out and they will respond "yes, no or abstain"

3:31pm

Ian Hudspeth says that those voting against the budget will be voting against flood relief money, against increasing care visits to 30 minutes and against the vulnerable residents of Oxfordshire.

3:29pm

A motion to vote on the budget is passed.

3:28pm

Labour councillor Susanna Pressed congratulates the administration for raising council tax despite the government encouraging councils not to do so.

3:26pm

He says the council has to "stop putting its toe in the water" and says the way to solve the problem is by having a unitary authority.

3:25pm

Neville Harris, an independent councillor who is not part of the administration, says he has purchased a book on economics to help him through the budget process.

3:22pm

Zoe Patrick, leader of the Lib Dems, says this is a "lacklustre" budget.

3:17pm

Speaking on the proposed budget Mr Williams says it represents the "slow death of local government".

3:15pm

The Green budget fails, with only the two Green councillors voting for.

3:14pm

Mr Hudspeth reminds the Greens that they would need to prepare a second budget in case the referendum failed.

3:13pm

He said: "We need to go out onto the street and convince people that local government matters.

"This could be a tremendous campaign but the major parties have rolled over."

3:11pm

A motion to move straight to the vote is passed and Mr Williams begins summing up.

3:10pm

Nick Hards, Labour's spokesman on finance, and his Lib Dem colleague Roz Smith both speak briefly against the amendment.

3:06pm

He says the idea that the people of Oxfordshire would vote for a 4,5 per cent increase in council tax is a "delusion".

3:05pm

Conservative councillor David Bartholomew said a referendum would cost more than £600,000 and the outcome would be uncertain.

"We are not in the business of Russian roulette politics."

3:02pm

Green councillor Sam Coates said: "I want to make the case for living in a society where people care about each other.

"A more humane society is something worth paying for."

2:56pm

He says the proposed budget is "nasty".

2:55pm

Parking charges would also be increased if the Green budget were successful.

2:55pm

Mr Williams said: "We believe that the people of Oxfordshire when faced with this decision on whether we really want to make these cuts against people who are the most vulnerable, the answer will be no as long as it is a small increase."

2:53pm

This will trigger a referendum as it is over the two per cent rise limit.

2:52pm

This will trigger a referendum as it is over the two per cent rise limit.

2:52pm

The Greens are proposing a 4.5 per cent council tax increase which Mr Williams says will mean people will have to pay 57p a week more.

2:49pm

David Williams is now introducing the green budget.

2:48pm

The Lib Dem amendment has failed.

2:47pm

Mr Hudspeth, the leader of the council, says the LibDems are tinkering around the edges.

2:46pm

She says it is an amendment which can deliver services.

2:42pm

The vote on the vote is successful and Zoe Patrick sums up.

2:41pm

Mr Hoare makes his request again and a vote is being held on whether to vote.

2:36pm

Labour councillor Mark Cherry said: "This budget comes straight out of a comic book.

"Even I understand you cannot borrow your way out of this."

2:35pm

Conservative councillor Simon Hoare attempts to force a vote saying the fate of it is certain but the chairman refuses.

2:25pm

Lib Dem councillor Neil Fawcett said: "Everybody had admitted that if we carry on with the current plan we are managing decline.

"We think we need to take a different approach and do what many other councils have done and borrow money up front to make a significant difference which can actually save you money over the long term."

2:20pm

Labour councillor John Tanner says: "this is not properly thought through, this is not properly funded.

"This is not win win, this is fantasy fantasy"

2:13pm

Arash Fatemian, the cabinet member for finance, says the Lib Dem amendment is "smoke and mirrors" and criticises the group for suggesting the council should borrow the maximum amount of £20m.

2:10pm

The Lib Dem budget proposes raising income by hiring out parts of County Hall and making savings by working with neighbouring councils.

2:07pm

She says her proposals are more far reaching than Labour's which she claims don't make a difference.

2:04pm

The meeting has restarted with Lib Dem group leader Zoe Patrick introducing the party's amendment.

12:56pm

The Labour amendement is lost and the council breaks for lunch for an hour.

12:55pm

Ian Hudspet accuses Labour of "dancing the hokey cokey" with the budget.

12:52pm

Ms Brighouse says her amendment is "not about gesture politics, it is about the truth"

12:47pm

Mr Fatemian has also revealed he has purchased a Euro millions ticket after reading the Labour amendment.

12:45pm

He says he "could not believe that a Labour party is suggesting increased savings from public health."

12:43pm

Arash Fatemian, the cabinet member for financial, says he is "disappointed" by the Labour amendment.

"I was looking forward to a fully costed budget."

12:38pm

Conservative councillor Kieron Mallon speaks against the proposedproposed cut in councillor allowances.

He said: "If people cannot afford to become councillors they won't" and warns that the cut will mean the only people who can become councillors are the "retired, unemployed and the unemployable".

12:32pm

The administration has said it does not imagine that any childrens centres will close because of the savings.

12:31pm

Labour councillor Mike Beam expresses concern at what might happen to children centres because of the £3m savings which the country wants to find from them.

12:24pm

Tim Hallchurch, the chairman, says he will aim to break for lunch at 1pm.

12:23pm

Labour councillor John Christie says: "The money which was spent by the last government was justified and the reason we have got cuts now is the failure of the coalition government to stick to its deficit reduction plan."

12:19pm

Though the Labour group says it is not convinced the people of Oxfordshire would back a tax increase and says a referendum would be too big a risk.

12:16pm

Green councillor Sam Coates says: "This budget is devastating" and adds that he is disappointed the Labour group has not backed the green proposal to increase council tax by more than four per cent, something which would trigger a referendum.

12:12pm

Whitney Labour councillor Laura Price says that her group's amendment is about "damage limitation"

12:07pm

He criticises Ms Brighouse for not making reference to what he says was the excessive borrowing of the previous labour government saying "sorry seems to be the hardest word",

12:05pm

Conservative councillor Simon Hoare says the Labour amendment "does not add up to a huge difference".

12:01pm

He adds that the amendment would include cutting councillors allowances by 10 per cent.

12:00pm

Nick Hards, Labour's spokesman on finance, says there is scope for a "modest" increase in charges.

11:57am

A number of the Labour proposals such as phasing the £1.5m cut to homelessness services over two years have already been included in the budget.

11:56am

The Labour amendment ringfences dial a ride, includes money to fund youth workers and money for credit unions.

11:52am

She describes the cuts from central government as a "direct attack from central government on local democracy"

11:51am

Labour group leader Liz Brighouse says central government has put the council in a "straight jacket" by removing its funding and preventing it from raising council tax.

11:48am

The meeting now moves onto the Labour amendment to the budget.

11:47am

Hilary Hibbert Biles, cabinet member for public health, says the new contract for school nurses will mean there will be a name nurse in every single secondary school in Oxfordshire.

11:44am

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for education, says the council "could not cope" with a shortfall of nearly £20m for building new schools which was announced earlier this year.

11:40am

He says Oxfordshire is the best performed county for recycling, though his department is cutting funding to the waste partnership with the district councils.

11:38am

David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for environment and transport, says the council is keeping Oxfordshire "open for business".

11:35am

He says a number of services have been "externalised".

11:33am

Nick Carter, cabinet member for business an customer services, says the council is undergoing a change of culture.

11:27am

Judith Heathcoat, cabinet member for adult social care, says there are "positive meetings" taking place with district councils about the cut to housing related support.

11:21am

Cabinet member for policy coordination Louise Chapman says her department is"focusing resources to target the most vulnerable"

11:19am

He says councillors " must" vote for the budget because it delivers "essential services" for vulnerable people.

11:17am

He highlights the City Deal, which will bring £55m of central government investment into Oxfordshire, and the recent funding of £11m for transport schemes such as the Cutteslowe roundabout.

11:14am

He says: "We have to redesign services"

11:13am

Mr Hudspeth introduces the budget, which he says is a "major challenge" and adds that there is "no way we can disguise the cuts".

11:11am

The report is accepted by the council which now moves on to the budget.

11:09am

John Tanner, a Labour councillor, says it is "important to stand up for the cleaners and the carers who serve this county so well."

11:03am

County councillor Susanna Pressel says paying the living wage will help reduce the benefits bill.

11:00am

The living wage is higher than the minimum wage and takes account of the cost of living locally.

10:58am

Council leader Ian Hudspeth says the council will try to introduce the living wage this year.

10:58am

The council is now considering a report from the remuneration committee.

10:56am

Gill Tishler, of Oxford City Advice Bureau, says the cuts in the budget will increase pressure on its services.

10:51am

Lesley Dewhurst of Oxford Homeless Pathways speaks against the cut in housing related support saying it is a "matter of life and death".

10:37am

Sue Tanner is speaking on behalf of advice centres facing funding cuts.

10:35am

She says it is the only bilingual advice centre in the Thames Valley and many vulnerable Chinese people cannot speak English.

10:33am

Former councillor Barbara Gatehouse is now speaking on behalf of Oxford's Chinese advice centre which is facing funding cuts.

10:30am

Karen Waggott is now presenting a petition for a history trail in Didcot.

10:28am

A by election for her seat will take place next month.

10:27am

Two appointments to committees are made to replace Caroline Newton, a Conservative county councillor for Darlington who ha resigned because her husband got a job in Italy.

10:26am

After tributes are paid the council observes a minutes silence.

10:13am

Tributes are being paid to former county councillors Tony Stockford and Pam Johnston who have died since the last meeting.

10:10am

He also says the council will be flying the Commonwealth flag on March 10.

10:09am

Mr Hallchurch uses the opportunity to thank all those who helped during the floods, including the fire brigade and district councils.

10:06am

Mr Hallchurch warns that if all councillors speak at length the meeting could last until 8pm this evening. He urges them to be brief and not repeat each other's points.

10:05am

Council leader Ian Hudspeth will introduce the budget and then members of the cabinet have the opportunity to speak. The amendments put forward by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens will be discussed and votes will be held on them. There will then be a general discussion on the budget.

10:01am

Chairman Tim Hallchurch kicks off the meeting.

10:00am

Worth remembering the political make up of the council: the Conservatives failed to win a majority in last year's election so formed an administration with the help of three independents (including former Labour stalwart Led Sibley).

9:57am

A large number of public speakers are expected from groups such as Oxford Homeless Pathways.

9:54am

Protester Michael Hugh Jones, of Oxford Pensioners Action Group, says he is concerned about cuts to the council's care budget.

9:53am

A small group of around 15 protesters gathered outside County Hall while Oxfordshire's 60 councillors gather for the meeting.

9:10am

Protesters are expected to gather outside County Hall this morning as Oxfordshire County Council meets to make a final decision on its budget. The meeting is expected to last for the better part of the day.

Comments (3)

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3:54pm Tue 18 Feb 14

mytaxes says...

So Mrs. Pressel Labour icouncillor is happy that council tax is to be raised, no doubt she can afford it in her multi million pound house, there are others Ms. Pressel who are struggling.
So Mrs. Pressel Labour icouncillor is happy that council tax is to be raised, no doubt she can afford it in her multi million pound house, there are others Ms. Pressel who are struggling. mytaxes
  • Score: 10

6:14pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Bon Rurgundy says...

I've had no pay rise for 5 years and these chisellers are happily helping themselves to a bigger cut. Bunch of thieves.
I've had no pay rise for 5 years and these chisellers are happily helping themselves to a bigger cut. Bunch of thieves. Bon Rurgundy
  • Score: 8

11:59pm Sat 22 Feb 14

WilburTheDog says...

Unfortunately we voted these scroungers ermm I mean councillors in. Luckily we can vote them out again.
I'd love to know why we still have 3 tier local government ? now that would be a good story. Why has oxfordshire got 5 district council and god knows how many town/parish councils as well as OCC. All of them on the take, and all for their own benefit. Also why do we allow the same councillors in to all 3 tiers. They are professional councillors, not councillors for the greater good. Most of the councillors at Cherwell Council I don't trust, Having attended a few planning meetings it reminded me of a kids playground. Just the old boys club, dodgy has hell. Well I say scrap one of the tiers of council we really don't need all 3. Now that would save us a fortune.
Unfortunately we voted these scroungers ermm I mean councillors in. Luckily we can vote them out again. I'd love to know why we still have 3 tier local government ? now that would be a good story. Why has oxfordshire got 5 district council and god knows how many town/parish councils as well as OCC. All of them on the take, and all for their own benefit. Also why do we allow the same councillors in to all 3 tiers. They are professional councillors, not councillors for the greater good. Most of the councillors at Cherwell Council I don't trust, Having attended a few planning meetings it reminded me of a kids playground. Just the old boys club, dodgy has hell. Well I say scrap one of the tiers of council we really don't need all 3. Now that would save us a fortune. WilburTheDog
  • Score: 2

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