Lancaster and Morecambe council cuts will “kick kids everywhere” say Tories

Coun David Smith.
Coun David Smith.

Plans to cut services across the district in a bid to save £2.8m were slammed as “kicking kids everywhere” at last night’s full council meeting.

Cutbacks to bin collections, city centre CCTV, swimming pools, town halls and visitor information centres form part of Lancaster City Council’s budget proposals.

There is also a proposal to charge £1 for the Happy Mount Park splash park.

Conservative councillor Andrew Gardiner slated plans to cut funding from Marsh Community Centre.

“We don’t want to shut down the centre because we believe children need chances,” he said.

“We believe in giving people chances, to give them something to aspire to.

“If you support this then you are kicking kids who we should be giving chances to.

“This budget is kicking kids everywhere.

“We have taken their swimming pools away; we are charging them to have a bit of fun in Happy Mount Park.”

However, Labour councillor David Smith hit back, saying: “You (Tories) have kicked thousands of kids to food banks so don’t preach to us about kicking kids.”

Coun Richard Newman-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for finance, said: “We are having to make some very tough decisions.

“These cuts aren’t made in County Hall; they are made in Downing Street.”

Labour councillor David Whitaker added: “This is a problem facing councils around the country. We are all having to make some very difficult decisions which are out of our control.”

Tory party leader Peter Williamson said his group believed the council should be looking at outside parties to run services at less cost and to a better standard.

“We recognise the indisputable value of the public sector,” he said.

“He added that it was “unacceptable” to continue increasing council tax for the district.

Fellow Conservative councillor Susan Sykes said: “It is utterly indefensible for people to criticise the government cuts.

“When the Conservatives came in in 2010 we were overspending by £150 billion. The people who are going to be paying for that are my children and grandchildren.

“It was an utterly unmanageable level of public spending.

“Six years on this government has more than halved that national overspending. I regard that as grossly responsible of this government.

“There are positive aspects that can come out of austerity; greatwer efficiency abnd a reduction in costs.”

Green councillor Dave Brookes said he wished to see funding for PCSOs remain in the budget proposals, suggesting instesad that cash set aside for IT was used.

Coun Newman-Thompson told councillors he was willing to listen to any ‘financially sound’ proposals they might have for changes to the planned cuts.

Councillors also approved a 1.99 per cent increase for the city council proportion of the council tax.

The proposals will be referred back to cabinet, with a final ratification due to be made at the budget council meeting on March 2.