Tory Councillors refuse to lobby Government to fix funding gap. On Thursday 17th February Conservative councillors voted against a motion to formally lobby Government for a fair funding deal for Hampshire County Council despite forecasting a £157million budget gap over the next four years.
Leader of the Labour opposition group, Cllr Alex Crawford said: “I am really disappointed by this. It sends a negative message to Hampshire residents. The council is willing to make cuts to essential services and increase the Council Tax burden without taking the government to task over continued cuts to funding.”
The motion proposed by Labour and supported by the Liberal Democrats asked the Leader of the Council to prepare a submission to Government and Hampshire MPs setting out the minimum extra funding needed over the next four years.
Cllr Kim Taylor, seconding the motion, asked for councillors to put aside their party allegiances and to take collective political responsibility to robustly campaign for a better funding settlement from Government. She said “The council is having to make changes and reductions in services in order to achieve cuts of £80 million by 2023, and are facing a massive shortfall for future years. I am bitterly disappointed that the majority of councillors could not put residents needs before toeing the party line.”
The Labour group point out that the Government recently decided to write of £4.3 billion in COVID-19 corporate fraud, which would have covered Hampshire’s core funding for 5 years and that, despite having areas of real need in the county it was unlikely that Hampshire County Council would receive any levelling up money. Given they feel the Council is duty bound to make its case direct to government in a strategic plan rather than piecemeal protests and meetings with Hampshire MPs which have not borne fruit.
Cllr Crawford said “ If you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results. Its time for a fresh approach but sadly the Leader and his fellow Conservative councillors haven’t recognised that yet.”