Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will ask government to end austerity

PUBLISHED: 17:33 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:42 01 October 2019

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices. Picture: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices. Picture: Archant

Archant

A motion, brought by Labour on Thursday, mandates Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to ask the government to end austerity.

Cllr Tony Kingsbury, leader of the council. Picture: WHBC.Cllr Tony Kingsbury, leader of the council. Picture: WHBC.

Council leader Tony Kingsbury - a Conservative, who voted against the decision - said funding in Welwyn Hatfield had become "challenging".

However, after previously sending a letter in late August to Chancellor Sajid Javid on the funding question, he objected to sending another letter.

Another Conservative councillor, Duncan Bell, said that urging the government repeatedly could reduce the impact of the council's pleas. Cllr Bell also told the other parties that they needed to get away from the idea that there is an "invisible magic money tree".

Labour councillor Lynn Chesterman dismissed these claims by saying the Treasury is not going to feel "suddenly swamped by Welwyn Hatfield".

Cllr Kieran Thorpe, leader of the Labour group at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, proposing the motion on austerity. He sits to the left of Labour councillor Glyn Hayes. Picture: WHBC.Cllr Kieran Thorpe, leader of the Labour group at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, proposing the motion on austerity. He sits to the left of Labour councillor Glyn Hayes. Picture: WHBC.

"Let's make them know we're really fed up with limping year to year," Cllr Chesterman said.

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The Labour motion, which acknowledged that 64 per cent has been cut from WHBC's funding since 2010, notes that "since the former Chancellor Phillip Hammond declared that austerity was over, that this council's funding has reduced further".

It also cites "the funding pressures faced by our local council" and calls on the government "to end austerity in local government so that our council and others can deliver the services that residents pay for at the levels they deserve".

Labour leader Cllr Kieran Thorpe - the proposer of the motion - said he hoped the conservative-led council knew how "challenging" austerity had been for Welwyn Hatfield's residents.

Cllr Thorpe said this is why he believes litter is not being picked up, recycling banks are not being emptied and the county council is not repairing footpaths in shopping districts.

"Stop this austerity that has been affecting us for more than a decade," he said.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Malcolm Cowan - who voted yes to the Labour motion, along with his party's councillors - said "money had been found for all sorts of things" by this government.

During the debate, Conservative councillor Stephen Boulton also argued that income tax should be collected locally so the council does not have to go "with our begging bowl" to central government.

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