I write in response to Alan Hazelhurst’s letter in last week’s Express (6 March 2015).
I can assure your readers that the controlling Labour group on Wakefield Council take the subject of cuts to our services extremely seriously. This is about people’s lives, not UKIP politically motivated stunts in order to gain votes. Government cuts to our budgets are deeply concerning to the labour group and will affect all council delivered services for everyone.
The Labour group have had to find £38 million of government imposed cuts this year, on top of the £81 million of cuts that we have made over the past 3 years. Nobody including UKIP or the Conservatives on the council voted against the proposals that the Labour Group put forward.
It would have been good to hear some serious suggestions from the opposition about how these cuts could have been made but unfortunately the only input we got from UKIP on how to save £38m next year was a proposal to turn the water off the fountain in The Bullring. There was no condemnation of the scale of the cuts the government have imposed from either UKIP or the Conservatives, so I can only presume they support the government’s decimation of our finances.
Budget saving proposals are worked on all year round, right from the minute the previous year’s budget has been set. Cuts of this magnitude are not decided on overnight. We work hard to mitigate the impact on residents as much as we can but due to the sheer scale of the cuts we are finding this ever more difficult.
As well as being debated in depth by the controlling Labour group, we have also consulted widely on our budget proposals and local people’s views and suggestions have been taken into consideration.
The final set of budget proposals that we brought forward have also been debated at cabinet.
Finally, I would add that member’s allowances are set by a remuneration panel which is a group of independent people. As a council we have always accepted the recommendations they make, we do not and should not be involved in deciding our own pay which over the past 5 years has seen very little increase and in some areas has been significantly reduced.
Councillor Graham Stokes
Cabinet Member, Corporate Services