Defeat for Labour call for Suffolk to spend to save

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich

A Labour move to spend more on Suffolk County Council services was defeated at a full council meeting yesterday.

While freezing council tax for the seventh year, the county budget calls for £31.3 million cuts across services, on top of the £34 million already saved.

But the approved budget plan also sees the Adult Social Care Precept, currently set at two per cent of council tax rise to three per cent in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

There is a budget gap of £39.8m in the next financial year, and on top of the proposed savings, the council plans to use about £8.5 million from its £49 million reserves.

A Labour amendment demanded the council invests in key services to improve care and reduce costs in the long run.

It proposed maintaining or increasing spending on:

*Children’s Services and specialist programmes that Labour says reduce costs and improve care by avoiding the need for children to be placed in care.

*Adult Care services that are preventative and early-intervention to improve health and reduce the need for expensive nursing care.

*Roads and infrastructure to improve public transport, hospital parking and cycle and pedestrian safety; and to mend potholed roads.

*Reversing fire service cuts e and invest in new full-time day crews in Sudbury and Felixstowe.

*The Library Service to ensure that all of Suffolk’s Libraries remain open.

*The Voluntary Sector, which already provides cost effective and vitally important statutory services.

The amendment was supported by most of the opposition parties but was defeated by 40 votes to 20, with seven abstentions, after UKIP supported the Conservatives.

Labour finance spokesman Len Jacklin, said “These are difficult times for local government, and no one can deny the need to be prudent. That is exactly why we brought forward this amendment.

“By cutting the preventative facilities and programmes, which cost money, but helped avert all kinds of crisis and difficulties, the administration has created bigger problems that we are now beginning to see.”