By Coun Paul Collins – Lib Dem Group Leader, Southend City Council.
AS January falls away and February comes into view, local Councils up and down our Country are wrestling with their Budgets.
How do they continue to protect the vulnerable, of all ages, and try to continue with services they provide for all their citizens. Not a day goes by at the moment when a Council leader goes public and demands that they need an emergency bail out from Government to remain solvent.
Councils everywhere have been crying out for years about the state of their finances, but the Conservative Government has repeatedly ignored them. It is local communities who are bearing the brunt of this neglect. Much-loved community services have fallen by the wayside because of Conservative Ministers’ underfunding of local authorities.
We need better planning and certainty of the Local Government settlement, at the moment it has only been one – or two-years notice, and we are back to just an in-year settlement, so we have no way of planning properly for 2025.
We need the Climate Change emergency back at the top of the agenda. It cannot go unnoticed that the temperature in Leigh at the end of January was nearly 16 degrees centigrade, astonishing!
Helping councils deliver genuinely affordable homes – in particular social rented housing, too many of our young people are unable to start on the property ladder and make their way in life.
The Southend and Leigh Liberal Democrats are proud of our City and will always contribute ideas to improve services, and support to the progressive groups of Councillors that want to see our city succeed and work for the Community we live in.
Over the last four years, we were delighted to see our input make Southend a better place to live. There is more to come from our decisions made in the previous joint administration, the £1m put into our children’s play areas is an investment to be rolled out this year.
The waste disposal of our non-recycling waste is now going to a Energy From Waste centre to generate electricity together with road making materials and no longer going into landfill.
Looking forward to 2024, the Conservative administration budget has items that include a reduction in the services from our Children’s Centres to the roll out of fortnightly waste collections.
This is a message for all – we as your elected representatives not to over promise. Whether it should be, vote for us to stop fortnightly collections, vote for us to put all our streetlights back up to 100% output in the early hours, vote for us to cut council’s individual staff salaries, vote for us to propose cancelling the Mayor and selling their residence, Porters.
These are either not legal or not achievable.
I have always believed integrity matters!
We look forward to local elections in May with enthusiasm and undoubtedly a General Election to come as well, to give all voters a chance to express their hopes and concerns at the ballot box. The Liberal Democrats will stand with our communities and get a message to all our Parliamentarians, that integrity matters. To think you are above your voters and once voted in, that is it, is reprehensible and I will never believe that, and I demand this same level of integrity from my group as well.
So, what will your determined and experienced Liberal Democrat group of Councillors want to do for you? At the heart of our policies will always be to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.
Picture: Coun Paul Collins – Lib Dem Group Leader, Southend City Council.
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