Labour Listens – Conservatives Ignore
As the headline in the Chronicle and Echo report on the Northampton Borough Council Budget meeting says the controversial cuts in community and public safety were passed by the Borough Council Conservatives who simply ignored the alternatives put forward by Labour and totally ignored the public consultation.
It was such a blatant disregard for what the public have said is a priority that when it comes to any other consultation such as the one on the future of council and sheltered housing, about which there will be more later, why should anyone believe that the Conservatives are interested.
There was a number of examples that came out of the Council meeting which demonstrated the administration do not have joined up thinking or policies, preferring instead to make them up as they go along which will damage the town and further destroy confidence from possible investors and damage individuals and families across the whole of the Borough.
Labour put forward an alternative budget that was agreed by the finance department as sound, deliverable, affordable and fully funded and which would have seen not a penny cut from front line services for the whole period of the current Council.
Labours alternative budget would have provided continuing funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s), provided an additional 3 Neighbourhood Wardens at a time when fly tipping is increasing, provided an additional one and half full-time Park Rangers to work in the Parks and Open Spaces and most importantly paid to have the streetlights switched back on in Sheltered Housing and vulnerable areas.
They were proposals based on Labour having engaged and listened to the people across Northampton.
The response from the Leader of the Council was to stand up and without giving the alternatives any consideration said “Conservatives will not be supporting the proposals and will vote against them”
The public who were present and had presented petitions with nearly 4000 signatures felt angry, frustrated, ignored and betrayed by the Conservatives who failed to give one solid reason for cutting public safety funding.
It was a quite amazing demonstration of the arrogant, “we know best don’t bother us” approach that Northampton has been treated to by the County Council over the past 8 years.
I predict that in next years budget, just before the County Council election the Conservatives will suddenly announce and try to take credit for the proposals Labour put forward this year on the basis that they think the Northampton public are not intelligent enough to see through it.
So let’s be very clear,
“the cuts in public safety were not approved by the full Northampton Borough Council. All of the Conservative Councillors voted for them, all of Labour Councillors voted against the cuts,”
and full responsibility for the dark streets, increase in crime and fear of crime across Northampton lies totally with the Conservative Borough and County Councillors, no-one else.
It was interesting that they then stood up and talked about how the Parish Council for the Nene Valley area were going to employ a PCSO, in effect the Conservatives are cutting funding and a parish council on which a number of Conservative Councillors sit are picking up the bill, or at least the Parish taxpayers are.
I wonder if they have been asked, or if those Conservatives who boasted that they had frozen the Borough Council Tax this year saving the taxpayer 7 pence a week, and who are seeking to have Parish Councils in their Wards such as Parklands have told the people that they will have to pay an extra £50 – £100 a year or £1 -£2 a week to fund the Parish Council?
I can’t help wondering if the Councillors will then be on all three Councils, the Parish, Borough and County and will they claim allowances and expenses paid for by the taxpayer from all three?
The other great boast was the investment in making Northampton an attractive place for new businesses and people to come and live, work and play.
I can only go on my own experience when I first looked to move into Northampton over 20 years ago.
People and business who are thinking of moving to November will come and look around, they will talk to the people who live here, do their research on what is said about the Local Council in the media and their approach to making the town clean, safe and committed to supporting its people.
What the Conservatives have demonstrated by not being interested in listening to the people is that potential investors will see a dark town lacking the police and a commitment to the environment with a population who lack confidence in their Council and Councillors.
It is a complete lack of coherent policies to take the town forward and the “Track” that the administration continue to claim they are “Putting Northampton Back On” is a track that will deter not encourage inward investment and much-needed employment.
In disregarding the proposal to switch the streetlights back on in the areas where the most vulnerable people across the Borough live they have demonstrated that the Conservatives have written the areas off.
Or as someone said to me on a visit to a resident sheltered housing in Ecton Brook this morning, “they are going to sell my house from under me so why worry about the lights and making it safe, it’ll be the new owners problem”.
Not strictly accurate but a clear and unambiguous message to all of those Conservative Councillors who simply decided to feather their own nest rather than put taxpayer’s money where taxpayers want it to be. “Into front line services.”
This is something that will run and run over the next 3 years when the Conservatives will be held to account at the ballot box but it is very clear that
CONSERVATIVES are and will continue to IGNORE the people of Northampton and only
LABOUR LISTEN’S TO NORTHAMPTON