A whole series of budget proposals made previously with strong public support by the City Council's opposition Lib Dem group, and rejected by the ruling Labour Group, have now been incorporated into Labour's budget for Cambridge City Council next year.
The refurbishment of the Market Square, provision of advice to refugees, a licence fee waiver to incentivise the adoption of electric taxis, increasing fees for the private hiring of public open spaces to enable better protection of ground surfaces, adaptations to enable Riverside to continue in use for houseboats: these have all been adopted as Labour policy, after Labour voted the same things down over the past 2 years.
Labour's budget also contains £500k of measures to make improvements to the waste collection service, the need for which was highlighted by the problem-fraught reorganisation introduced last year. At the time Labour councillors said there were no problems with the changes and refused to apologise. Lib Dem councillors have repeatedly insisted that the Council was burying its head in the sand, and that there were lessons which had to be learned.
Labour is also finally scrapping its price-cutting approach to off street car parking, which Lib Dems have attacked over the past 2 years as providing a perverse incentive to bring cars to the city centre, which is already overwrought by congestion. Labour have repeatedly rejected Lib Dem alternatives to keep the price of city centre car parks at least up with inflation.
The budget also contains substantial provision to prepare for the redevelopment of the Sewage Works site near the Cambridge North station, enabling the building of over 7000 much-needed new homes, which Lib Dems have been pressing for. Labour had previously refused to do just that.
Cllr Tim Bick, Lib Dem Group Leader said: "We are delighted with victories on these long running campaigns, even if they were longer running than they need have been. They all represent the importance of ambition and improvement for Cambridge. Quite why we have had the ridiculous party games before the eventual somersaults from Labour, is anyone's guess. We're just pleased they now agree with us and the many members of the public who have told us these things are important.
"This certainly doesn't mean we support everything in Labour's budget or that we don't have more ideas that Labour still needs to accept. We will be scrutinising the rest of it and bringing forward our own alternatives over the next few weeks."
- Lib Dem proposals in last year's budget
- Lib Dem proposals for 2016 budget
- Lib Dem criticism of the bins reorganisation resulted in an interim report to the Environment Scrutiny Committee in June 2017 and a full report to the next one on Jan 16th. Their scrutiny can be seen in the June minutes.
- Lib Dem motion on the redevelopment of Cambridge Northern Fringe East and Labour's blocking response