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City Budget approved

February 13, 2004 12:00 AM

£5 per year increase in City council tax

Lib Dems slam Labour's plans to axe 'People Power' meetings and abandon abandoned cars.

Green Bin collections to be extended across City

"One of the lowest levels of council tax for shire districts anywhere in the country!", was how Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith, leader of the city council, introduced the Lib Dem's annual budget. He went on to add: "Despite government straightjackets we have been able to find £1.6 million to reshape our services to meet the priorities expressed in surveys by Cambridge citizens"

Recognising how unfair the system of council tax is, we have managed to keep the increase in council tax to a low 4%. He also pointed to the "Excellent" grade given to the council by the independent Audit Commission.

Making Cambridge cleaner, greener and safer

He announced expansion of the popular waste recycling schemes, more on street cleaning and the renovation or rebuilding of public loos. He also announced plans to extend the mobile CCTV scheme which is currently coming to the end of lengthy but necessary technical trials around the city. Money has also been found to fund two more community police safety officers.

"People feel safer when they see uniformed officers patrolling", says Cllr Nimmo-Smith.

Housing and Health

Cllr Catherine Smart, Executive Councillor for Housing and Health, also announced the launch of the city's new low interest loan scheme to help older people to upgrade their properties. Funds have also been found to pay for a research officer who will look at the reasons why Cambridge seems to be a magnet for repeated homelessness. "This will be the first real study into the root causes of homelessness in our city. This will mean we can better target resources into tackling the problems that we all see on our streets", says Cllr Smart. She also announced plans to get people out of temporary accommodation much more quickly. "When you are in Bed and Breakfast, the whole family is in limbo. We want to speed up the assessment of homeless people in temporary accommodation so that they can enjoy the benefits of a permanent home", says Cllr Smart.

Labour's plans attacked

Lib Dem councillors have attacked Labour plans to abolish the new Area Committees which give local people a voice in planning issues and other areas of concern to them. "Though it's early days, these open forums have been especially successful in giving the elderly a real voice in the running of their city", says Cllr Judith Pinnington, the ward councillor for Trumpington. "I have never seen such well attended public meetings", says Cllr Joye Rosenstiel, councillor for Market ward. "Labour now want to abolish this exciting development in local democracy", she adds.

Lib Dems also heavily criticised Labour's proposal to give £17,000 of taxpayers' money to the trade union, UNISON.

They also were scornful of Labour's plan (rejected) to impose a £25 charge to remove abandoned vehicles. "This is so short sighted", says Cllr Alan Baker who represents Queen Ediths. "I am proud of the achievements the council has made in clearing these eyesores off the streets. Abandoned vehicles are not just ugly , they are targets for vandalism and a danger to children".