With the final Isle of Wight Council budget set to be approved today (Wednesday), opposition councillors are preparing their alternatives – hoping to change the some of the cuts and savings the Conservative administration have proposed.
A 3.99 per cent council tax rise, increased parking fees and more money into children’s services are some of the key proposals of part of the 2020/21 budget, when the council need to make £4.5 million worth of savings.
Efficiency savings and other service cuts will also be made.
The need for savings is partially due to funding streams ultimately not going to plan — including the fair funding review, a health and social care green paper and an ‘Island Deal’.
Opposition councillors will try and amend some of the proposals at a meeting of the full council and have outlined some of their changes.
Liberal Democrat councillor for Parkhurst, Cllr Andrew Garratt has said his party’s budget aims to protect and improve vital services for vulnerable adults and children, boost local entrepreneurial spirit and back environmental initiatives.
Cllr Garratt said:
“Despite his big election victory, Boris Johnson’s government has failed to deliver an ‘Island Deal’ and so, once again, the Isle of Wight Council is forced to make massive cuts in services.
“The Lib Dem budget amendment again shows there is a better approach than the one being taken by the Conservative administration.
“Our plans are sound. They are paid for by redirecting £1.5 million that the Conservative leadership would put into the ‘Transformation Reserve’.”
The Liberal Democrat budget would invest an extra £700,000 in adult social care and £200,000 in children’s services, stop proposed cuts to beach cleaning and community libraries and trial 30-minute free parking in Newport High Street.
Another £100,000 would go into an Enterprise Fund for local entrepreneurs and £250,000 to back any plans relating to the council’s declared climate emergency.
Cllr Garratt has also said the Lib Dems would invest £180,000 in communities, working with town, parish and community councils to enhance their community.
Cllr Michael Lilley, an independent Green councillor and member of the 1957 Group with Cllr Geoff Brodie, has announced he will put forward an amendment to establish a Isle of Wight Parish and Town Councils’ Green Deal and Infrastructure and Working Together Investment Fund worth £1 million.
The fund would help town, parish and community council to develop local environmental projects across the Island — including tree planting, solar energy farms and developing green tourism.
Cllr Lilley said:
“My idea is that this fund would enable parish and town councils across the Island to amalgamate resources to develop an economy of scale to meet Biosphere and Climate Emergency commitments already signed up the Isle of Wight Council.
“This would attract funding from a range of national and international sources of green/environmental funds — each council green pound could double or triple.”
Independent Councillor for Sandown North, Cllr Debbie Andre has said the changes the Island Independent Group would make include considering the viability of providing a “Pay As You Use” option for Garden Waste Collection.
She also suggests the council reduces its revenue contribution to capital investment by £820,000 and relocate the money, to provide additional resources to deliver social and/or affordable housing.
Cllr Andre suggests the £820,000 would come from money currently allocated for the Sandown Civic centre.
Other opposition councillors are expected to make amendments to the Conservative budget at a meeting of the full council later.