Angry protest as budget is voted through

Carers and members of Unison express their concerns over the proposed budget cuts at the meeting and protest at County Hall, Matlock.
Carers and members of Unison express their concerns over the proposed budget cuts at the meeting and protest at County Hall, Matlock.
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The impassioned campaigners, rallying against multi-million pound reductions to adult care, were determined to make a point - even after the cabinet meeting got underway.

The impassioned campaigners, rallying against multi-million pound reductions to adult care, were determined to make a point - even after the cabinet meeting got underway.

Stephen Green, a talented piano player who suffers from Down’s Syndrome - and is an adult care service user - wandered up the room to hand a leaflet to Derbyshire County Council leader Cllr Andrew Lewer.

“I’m not a cost pressure,” read the leaflet. “I’m a human being.”

But despite the placards, despite the chants, despite the leaflet, the cabinet approved tough budget cuts of £35.399m for 2011 to 2012 - affecting a number of departments including adult care and children and younger adults.

The cabinet’s decisions are to due be considered by the full council next Wednesday.

Other savings are being made due to a shortfall in concessionary bus fare funding and grants re-distributed to new school academies.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Ann Western, leader of the Labour Group at Derbyshire County Council, blasted the cuts.

“They’re going to be devastating for services, they’re going to be devastating for people. It’s disgusting,” she said.

“The most vulnerable people will be hardest hit. This is a very, very sad day for Derbyshire.”

Council bosses said the authority - which has to cut spending by around £90m and lose 2,000 jobs by 2015 as a result of the squeeze on public spending - aims to protect frontline services and posts where possible. This will be done by more efficient ways of working, staff and service reorganisation and offers of voluntary redundancy and early retirement - but while making no hike in its share of the council tax bill.

After the meeting, Cllr Andrew Lewer, said: “We have had to make tough decisions.

“We are in this position because of irresponsible spending by the previous Government which has left the country with unimaginable debt.

“The Government has faced up to the stark moral choice – to stop spending money we do not have or reckless borrowing to carry on over-spending and leave our children or our children’s children to pick up the bill.”

He added: “I accept there will be an impact. People will notice cuts - but services will continue to be provided by us.”

michael.broomhead

@derbyshiretimes.co.uk