Chesterfield councillor says Tory Government is 'taking us back to Victorian times'

A Chesterfield councillor has accused the Conservative Government of 'taking our country back to Victorian times' - and said council budgets are at 'breaking point'.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 2:56 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 4:02 pm
Prime Minsiter Theresa May.

Councillor Jean Innes made the hard-hitting comments during a meeting of Labour-led Chesterfield Borough Council on Wednesday.

The council told the Derbyshire Times it will receive £434,000 from central Government's revenue support grant in 2019-20. The corresponding amount for 2010-11 was £1.3million.

According to the council, there will be no revenue support grant in 2020-21 - meaning the authority will have to finance itself.

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Councillor Jean Innes.

The council also revealed it had saved £3.3m since 2010 and has a savings target of £429,000 for the coming year.

The Government said the council had £5.7m in non-ringfenced reserves at the end of the last financial year.

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Chesterfield Town Hall, where many important decisions are made.

Coun Innes, who represents Old Whittington on the council, told the meeting: "Councils are facing a funding crisis and the Tory Government is to blame.

"Austerity has caused huge damage to communities up and down the UK, with devastating effects on key public services that protect the most defenceless in society, act as a safety net for hard-working families and the services we all rely on, like clean streets, refuse collections, parks and open spaces.

"The Prime Minister claimed that 'austerity is over' even while planning a further £1.3billion cut to council budgets next year.

"Councils like ours are all that stand between our communities and the Government’s unfair cuts and welfare reforms.

Chesterfield Borough Council needs to made savings of nearly 450,000 in the next year.

"This council continues to do its best to protect its communities from the worst of the Government’s austerity measures by working with the voluntary sector advice agencies and local churches.

"Together we support people adversely affected by the roll out of Universal Credit and to provide a night shelter for the homeless this winter.

"Upgrading our facilities, such as Queen's Park Sports Centre, the Winding Wheel theatre and the town hall, has increased use, brought in new income and reduced subsidies.

"We have driven economic growth through aspirational schemes such as the Northern Gateway.

"But even after these measures the council continues to face a huge gap in its finances in 2020-21.

"Despite a campaign by Labour councillors calling for the Government to put a real end to austerity, the Government is still forcing councils to make further cuts.

"Council budgets are now at breaking point - and this council says that enough is enough.

"The Government must bring a full stop to cuts and its welfare reforms which are taking our country back to Victorian times."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "We are investing in Britain's future by providing local authorities with access to £45.1bn this year - increasing to £46.4bn next year - to meet the needs of their residents.

"At the Budget we announced more than £1bn in extra funding for local Government to help address pressures on services."