Dogmatic Conservatives reject opposition budget amendment

Opposition councillors on East Sussex County Council who worked together to produce a joint budget amendment accused the Conservative administration of playing politics rather than meeting the needs of residents.

Cllr David Tutt, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, explains: “As opposition groups, we put aside our political differences to produce a budget amendment which we believe delivered services that our residents want. It was clear from the response of Conservative councillors that they value tribal politics more than entering into a mature debate about what is best for East Sussex and its residents.

"We offered the Conservatives the opportunity to take a break so that we could discuss which aspects of the amendment they might be willing to accept and the response from the Leader of the Council was “don’t waste your time”. This is not the sort of response residents would expect from a council Leader and sadly reflects the yah boo attitude that has so badly affected national politics”.

Cllr Chris Collier, Co-Leader of the Labour group adds: “Our joint amendment made no impact on either the reserves or level of Council Tax.  It simply took money that the Conservatives had left unallocated and directed this to address issues that local residents have told us are important to them. Many Conservative councillors said that they agreed with a number of the proposals but were still going to vote against them whilst putting them in the bank for their own future budget. The purpose of a budget is to deliver services, not to play political games”.

Cllr Jonny Denis, Co-Leader of the Green group said: “This amendment, which set out a number of pilot schemes that are a practical and pragmatic way to test out ideas, is about changing the way in which we do things. We don’t want to waste the resource and expertise of any of our councillors which is why we worked together on this amendment. Throwing out the amendment has wasted the resources of duly elected councillors who are simply trying to get their residents’ voices heard and officers who have advised and supported all councillors”.

Cllr Stephen Shing, Leader of the Independent Democrat group adds: “Our style of leadership sends a message to our communities. This joint budget amendment gave us all an opportunity to work together in a different way and to send out a different message to our current divisive and confrontational national politics. It is very disappointing that the Conservatives were not prepared to work with us on this small amendment.”

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