Protest fails to stop 300 Cambridgeshire council job cuts

PROTESTS against 300 job cuts at Cambridgeshire County Council fell on deaf ears as plans to slash spending on services by £95.5 million over five years were approved.

Councillors entering Shire Hall yesterday (tues) were greeted by union members and supporters, including Labour’s Cambridge parliamentary candidate Daniel Zeichner, bearing banners saying “no cuts in pay, jobs or services” and chanting “no ifs, no buts, no county council cuts.”

Tom Woodcock, of the newly-formed Cambridgeshire Against The Cuts, said: “We need to invest more in our services – transport, health and education services are at breaking point.”

But members voted to implement the five-year plan that will see 300 council jobs axed over two years.

There is a £3.8 million cut from the adult social care budget, which includes support for elderly, disabled and mentally ill residents, in 2010/2011.

Spending on libraries will fall by £1.1 million next year while the children and young people’s services budget, which is £82 million next year, will be cut by 2.1 per cent over five years.

Council leader Jill Tuck said: “The position is clear – and it is stark. Over the next five years the council’s spending power will reduce by some 20 per cent.

“At the same time the twin pressures of demand and inflation will eat into our resources.”

She said £3 million would be spent over three years to repair potholes and there is £16 million for new building work at primary schools.

The overall budget for services in the county next year is £339.4 million, up 3.5 per cent, but it does not include day-to-day costs of running schools, which is met by the Government.

Labour’s Cllr Tariq Sadiq said: “This budget will hurt the young and the old. People’s jobs are at stake today.”

Under the proposals council tax will rise by 3 per cent, increasing the charge by £30.51 to £1,047.78 for a Band D property.

The Green Party’s Cllr Simon Sedgwick-Jell said a low council tax rise was not something to be proud of if services had to be cut.

Cllr David Jenkins, Liberal Democrat leader, said the ruling Conservatives were “obsessed by cuts”.

He introduced his party’s alternative budget, which would provide £20 million more to spend on priority services including roads, pavements, public transport, children’s services and adult care.

The alternative budget was rejected.

The budget was passed by 34 votes to 19, with two abstentions.