Government cuts in council funding a ‘knife in the back’ for Lincolnshire

Leading Lincolnshire county councillors have launched a scathing attack on the government for its cuts to the council’s budget over upcoming years.

As previously reported, cuts to the council’s budget were £10 million worse than expected in the government’s announcement on December 17.

Council tax is set to rise by 3.95% to ‘balance the books’, with the average taxpayer seeing an increase to their bill of £43.

Cuts of £42 million are expected, with the county council holding a consultation with members of the public to decide on which services to reduce or stop funding for.

At a meeting of the Executive on January 5 to discuss the council’s budget proposals for 2016/2017, councillors hit out at central government for the scale of the cuts facing the authority over the next four years.

Councillors also did not hold back in their criticisms of the Local Government Association (LGA), a cross-party organisation which aims to work on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government.

Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Martin Hill, said: “Rural councils feel rightly aggrieved at the settlement.

“More money has been taken away and given to metropolitan areas and the LGA needs to act now in the interests of fairness.

“It’s hard to suggest raising council tax as well as cutting £42 million and using our reserves.”

The council leader added that he found increases to some budgets, especially overseas aid, took “a lot of swallowing.”

Lincolnshire County Councillor Richard Davies. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire County Councillor Richard Davies. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, did not mince his words, saying that it felt like the council had been “taken for dinner and left with the bill by the LGA.”

He said: “If a dog bites you once you may let it off. If it bites you twice you shoot it and that’s what we should do to our LGA subscription.”

Other councillors echoed this sentiment, and voiced their displeasure at the settlement.

Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economic Development at Lincolnshire County Council. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economic Development at Lincolnshire County Council. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Colin Davie described it as “a knife in the back for rural England”, while Nick Worth described it as “a kick in the teeth.”

Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Culture and Heritage. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Culture and Heritage. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Despite this, Councillor Hill said that there was still time to find a more “equitable solution.”

The committee was interrupted by Councillor Marianne Overton from the Lincolnshire Independents, who sat in on the meeting.

Councillor Overton, leader of the Independent Group on the LGA, offered her help in any future discussions with the organisation.