CALLS for greater collaboration among councillors were made at Bassetlaw Council’s annual budget meeting in Retford last night (Monday 4th March).
Members voted unanimously in favour of Labour’s proposed budget which will see Council Tax frozen at the same level since 2009.
Portfolio holder for finance Coun June Evans spoke the ‘difficult’ decisions the authority faces against the backdrop of major funding cuts from Central Government.
“Everyone here knows tonight that when times are hard, difficult decisions have to be made,” she said.
“I am willing to make those decisions so are my colleagues - it’s what being in control and taking responsibility is all about.”
She added: “I also hope that everyone here tonight, at the very least, is honest enough to acknowledge that no money means no real choice.”
Speaking on behalf of the Conservative party, Coun Annette Simpson said the group supported the budget and spoke of the need for closer cross-party working.
“Apart from some minor exceptions, which are too small to waste time over, this budget is almost identical to the one that we Conservatives would have produced,” she said.
“It is always easy to try to tear apart, for political gain, anything produced by a different political group. I am told that we have been accused of exactly the same thing, but this is the time to change.”
But Coun Simpson criticised council leader Coun Simon Greaves for failing to honour his election promise of meeting the opposition leader to discuss issues.
“The Conservatives are prepared to move towards collaboration with the current administration to remove political ‘I told you so’s’ and work together to establish a restructured and robust Bassetlaw Council to withstand any future constrictions in funding and avoid loss of jobs at all times.”
Labour councillor Dave Challinor said he was pleasantly surprised by the Tories’ call for better party relations.
“I previously called for Team Bassetlaw and it has finally sunk in. We should all work together and tonight has proven that we are moving forward as Team Bassetlaw,” he said.
“It’s great to see that we are singing from the same hymn sheet and Coun Evans must be congratulated for delivering a fantastic budget once again.”
Tory councillor Wendy Quigley said members should be working together to serve the public.
“It just goes to show what can be achieved if we work together. An example of cross-party working is the work we are doing with the ambulance service,” she said.
“Coun Graham Oxby has brought us all together as one - it just shows it can be done.”
Council leader Coun Simon Greaves said he was ‘pleased’ by the support the Conservatives had shown to the budget.
And he said the council needs to work together as the authority faces finding a further £920,000 savings next year.
“We are unprecedented times and the pace of change is going to get even faster,” he said.
“This is only the start of a series of cuts which will set Bassetlaw back decades.”
But some council members were not convinced by the ‘Team Bassetlaw’ approach, including Coun Alan Rhodes who said the Tories didn’t support Labour when they were in control.
He wrote on his Twitter account during the meeting: “All this talk about collaborating with the Tories and ‘team Bassetlaw’ is making me feel sick. #votelabourinmay.”