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CAMBRIDGE LIB DEMS PRESENT AMBITIOUS PLANS IN 2008 BUDGET - CITY COUNCIL

February 21, 2008 5:16 PM

Cambridge Liberal Democrat City Councillors will present tonight their budget proposal for 2008/2009.

Leader of the City Council, Ian Nimmo-Smith, said:

"The Liberal Democrat budget for the coming year puts the council on course towards our key objectives: to reduce Cambridge's carbon footprint, to create more sustainable housing, to sustain the areas in which we live and to provide high quality, responsive services.

"It is a budget with no frills, and with a low council tax increase, despite needing again to bail out the financial mess the government has created with 'free' concessionary bus travel."

Fighting a daylight robbery

The Housing Budget that will be agreed this evening at the meeting of the Cambridge City Council will have a large hole in it. The Government takes over eleven million pounds to spend on Council Housing in other cities. This is about £1,500 a house, so every council tenant in the city sees £1,500 of their rent go to repair houses in places like London and Birmingham.

Executive Councillor for Housing, Catherine Smart, commented:

"This money snatch from the tenants' rent is a real scandal. The amount the Government is taking is more every year and it has gone up by two million this year. If that money stayed in Cambridge, we could make real improvements to the estates, refurbish areas properly ourselves and even build new affordable houses.

I agree that people in London and elsewhere should have decent homes but it should not be at the expense of Cambridge tenants."

Facing new challenges

Cambridge is growing fast and must face new challenges everyday. Therefore, the Climate Change and Growth portfolio abounds with ambitious plans to meet these challenges. These initiatives include investments in carbon reduction and biodiversity policies. Cambridge will lead the country in promoting new sustainable urban drainage schemes which will reduce the risk of flooding and protect people's homes of the major consequences of global warming.

Executive Councillor for Climate Change and Growth, Sian Reid, commented:

"We are dedicated to reducing our carbon emissions and therefore have decided to launch the Climate Change Fund. This fund results from the commitments we made last year in the Cambridge Climate Change Charter.

"Cambridge's rapid growth is challenging and means that Council staff are needed in completely new roles. One of these will be focused on urban drainage to tackle flash flooding and to protect our residents' well-being."

Making Cambridge a cleaner place

Recycling is a top priority for the City Council. The Council's goal is to provide recycling services to every Cambridge resident. The Council also wishes to start a pilot scheme for recycling litter, providing separate bins for recycling alongside general litter.

Executive City Councillor for Environmental Services, Colin Rosenstiel, commented:

"We are committed to providing a recycling service to every household in the city. This year, we have extended local recycling to 30% of the city's flats and we will continue this programme next year towards 50% and beyond.

"It is easy to protect the environment by recycling and we must make sure every Cambridge resident has the necessary equipment to do so."

Offering better services to our community

The 2008 budget will allocate funds to pursue the incredibly successful "Scores on the Doors" project. This project gives online access to Cambridge food safety inspection scores.

Executive Councillor for Community Development and Health, Sheila Stuart, said:

"I'm looking forwards to pursuing the "Scores on the Doors" project. It's an excellent initiative which has had a great success so far. I believe Cambridge residents should have access to these reviews and make enlightened decisions about where they wish to have dinner.

"I'm also glad to report that we will be implementing energy-saving measures at the Meadows Community Centre to make it both welcoming and environment-friendly."

Improving sport facilities and open spaces

Several sport facilities are to be refurbished and improved throughout the city, including the Abbey Leisure complex. Many open spaces in the city will also be improved, including Christ's Pieces and the Diana Memorial Garden.

Executive City Councillor for Arts and Recreations, Julie Smith, said:

"I am happy to report that we will be improving the quality of recreational services all around the city. I believe it's essential to preserve the green areas of our beautiful city. Flowers and trees should not be a luxury and should be available to everyone wherever they go in the city.

"I am also glad to announce major improvements of our sports facilities. Cambridge residents will soon be able to enjoy brand new facilities."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1) The Budget will be debated in Full Council on Thursday 21 February at 6pm at the Guildhall.

2) Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith can be contacted on 07966 699 097

3) Councillor Sian Reid can be contacted on 07770 382 190 or 01223 356 100

4) Councillor Colin Rosenstiel can be contacted on 07710 459 890

5) Councillor Catherine Smart can be contacted on 01223 511 210

6) Councillor Sheila Stuart can be contacted on 01223 576 916