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Arrogant and insulting - Tories refuse to debate budget

February 26, 2018 8:13 PM

CashConservative councillors have voted to increase Council Tax and car parking charges while closing public toilets. They refused to debate the option of increasing council tax on second homes when they dismissed budget amendments put forward by the Liberal Democrats at Follaton House on February 22nd.

Instead they voted the amendments down with no debate, denying an opportunity to support local businesses and our market towns, and building genuinely affordable houses for local working families.

"The council meeting was an opportunity to discuss our ideas and those of the Conservative leader. It is outrageous, arrogant and frankly insulting, that without exception the Conservative councillors sat on their hands and decided not to engage in any discussion," said Lib Dem group leader Keith Baldry.

"They then voted as a block to reject the Lib Dem proposals. At the least it would have been interesting to know their reasons for objecting to our ideas. Why do they think they are councillors? Surely not to sit in silence in meetings. The people of South Hams deserve better."

Councillor Julian Brazil, who had seconded the budget amendments put forward by Cllr Baldry, said: "It's another example of South Hams Conservative councillors treating local residents with contempt. When they consulted on the proposed merger with West Devon over 85% said no - they ignored local people and voted for the merger anyway."

The agreed budget will mean higher car parking charges and more council tax for local residents with no improvement in services.

"The Conservative leadership has taken the easy and traditional option to meet the budget gap. Increase tax, put up parking charges and cut services. Our proposals were innovative and in the interests of South Hams residents," said Cllr Baldry.

"Ours is a dynamic, vibrant and strategic budget for the medium and long term. It supports our local businesses, market towns and the tourism industry. It will help to unlock the potential of our young entrepreneurs and creative talents in order to drive economic growth in the South Hams and build genuinely affordable housing for young working families. It shows our trust and confidence in local Parish and Town Councils believing they are best placed to deliver for their local communities," said Cllr Brazil.

One of the Lib Dem outcomes would have been a cut in car parking charges in our market towns by 10% costing £175,000, with a target to reduce charges by 50% by 2022/23. This would give our high streets a much-needed boost and encourage visitors into town.