Birmingham Budget Meeting

We all know Birmingham is short of money and cuts have to be made. Yes, the Government is giving us less money (though not as much less as some Labour Councillors would have you believe), but then the Government is having to clear up the mess Gordon Brown made of our country.

At yesterday’s budget meeting, the Conservatives presented an alternative budget which Labour Councillors could have voted for. But they didn’t. Ours was a legal budget, signed off by the 151 officer, and it kept many of the services which we know local residents want. Our budget had cuts too – but in other areas.

We would have cut the number of Full Time Union Reps which the Council funds (why haven’t they gone down in line with the reduction in the work force?), we would have cut the number of consultants used, we would have cut the number of agency staff used,  we would have cut the number of European officers, etc. etc.

We would NOT have introduced wheelie bins, instead providing households with dustbins (just as the Council did back in the 60s or 70s) to keep their black sacks in to stop them being ripped open by vermin. Why is a dustbin better than a wheelie bin? It’s easier to move (or to move just its contents)  if you have limited space or no front to back access, so you wouldn’t get lines of them left permanently on the pavement.  The crews can collect the waste quicker too.

We would NOT have charged £35 per annum to have your garden waste taken away – as Labour are going to do. People have already paid for this service through their Council Tax and it is wrong to charge them again (especially if the Labour leadership persists in insisting that householders have to sign up on line and pay by direct debit – thereby preventing anyone who can’t use a computer and/or doesn’t have a bank account from using the service.)

We would NOT have stopped issuing black rubbish bags from April – as Labour are going to do. Wards like Edgbaston (who are not in the wheelie bin pilot) are going to be faced with a year of black bag collections – without the bags. Labour are expecting people to buy their own at the supermarket. Some people will, and some people won’t and will use flimsy supermarket carriers etc. instead – because they are free. I foresee an increase in litter in the city.

This is just a tiny amount of what was in our budget. But you get the picture – Labour chose to fund extra Union reps, agency workers, consultants and European officers above giving the public a decent refuse service.

Some Labour members are asking why opposition Councillors keep talking about wheelie bins. It’s simple. Unlike some Labour Councillors (who only give out a Labour office telephone number as their contact details), I give out my home phone number to my constituents, so when I got home last night after the budget meeting there were several messages waiting for me, and they were ALL from people saying they didn’t want wheelie bins.

That’s why I’m talking about it. Because I know from the surveys the Conservatives are carrying out across the city that the majority of people in Birmingham don’t want wheelie bins. These people expect someone to stick up for their point of view – so I do. And if Labour don’t like it – tough!

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