On Tuesday 16 February the Liberal Democrat County Council group found themselves locked in a long battle of wills against the Conservatives, the largest group on the County Council.
Lib Dem, Labour, Independant and UKIP Councillors united in criticising the Conservative budget proposals.
Cambridgeshire’s Conservative group on the County Council were the only Conservatives in the Eastern Region to decide to vote against taking the additional 2% funding made available to county councils with responsibilities for social care. This additional money was made available to reduce the shortfall caused by George Osborne deciding he would not be funding the costs of the National Living Wage. This has left Cambridgeshire County Council with a £5 million hole in its budgets, which the additional 2% would reduce to £4.8 million for Cambridgeshire.
After a 10 hour meeting the Independent councillors along with some UKIP members caved in to the Conservatives, and agreed a compromise which will bring the council an additional 0.01% spending, around £25k extra over the year. Lib Dem councillors are deeply disappointed that John Hipkin, as Leader of Independent group caved in.
Lib Dem Leader Lucy Nethsingha said; “We had hoped that John Hipkin would have held out for rather more. Cambridgeshire County Council is facing massive cuts this year, cuts which will affect everyone, but will fall hardest on the most vulnerable. As we see our libraries close, our street lights switched off, disabled people facing reduced support and hospital waiting times rise, I hope residents will remember that not all of this was necessary. We could have kept many of these services, and improved the lives of those who need our support. The Conservatives, supported by John Hipkin, chose to cut services rather than ask our residents for an additional £2 a month per household, which is less than the cost of a cup of coffee."