Bradford Council Tories hit out in budget talks row

Tory leader Coun Glen Miller

Tory leader Coun Glen Miller

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , City Hall Reporter

Conservatives at Bradford Council claim their attempts at creating an alternative to Labour’s cuts programme are being hampered.

The opposition group says crucial details about the authority’s finances were being held from them until this week.

Bradford Council is due to set its budget for the next financial year in February, and the ruling Labour party’s proposals – which include cuts to the youth service, children’s centres and mobile libraries – have proved controversial.

The other political parties are expected to present their alternative proposals, or any suggested amendments to Labour’s budget, next month.

But Conservative Group leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said a booklet containing key financial background information was only given to them on Monday, leaving them little time to prepare.

He said: “Developing budget proposals for an organisation the size of the Council is not easy and it is likely that having read the budget book very many questions would have to be asked and facts established before they could be used in any proposals.”

He claimed the situation put opposition parties at a disadvantage to the Labour leadership.

Councillor Howard Middleton, of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “It does seem to be a tighter timetable than we have had previously.”

But he said a ruling party would always have more access to financial information than opposition parties.

Council leader Councillor David Green (Lab) denied any underhand tactics, saying the timing of the release was the same as in previous years.

He said: “Coun Miller is using this as a smokescreen for the fact that he has no credible proposals to offer.

“He has year-round access to officers and information to assist him in producing proposals. When in opposition the Labour Group always used those opportunities to present credible alternative budgets.

“I wrote to Coun Miller in October inviting him to offer alternatives and to work with us on at least some aspects of the budget. The fact that he has done none of these things says more about him and his commitment to the job than it does about the Council.

“Consultation started in September, proposals are under unprecedented scrutiny and, for the first time, we have a comprehensive range of financial information in one place on the website, including the budget book.

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