“The Government has set us a challenge. Do without the Revenue Support Grant, some 40% of our service funding."
"It has said, live within your means. Deliver value for money. Modernise and rationalise your services. Be as efficient with taxpayer money as possible.
Our Libraries Plan does that. We agreed a fixed budget for our libraries in February. We agreed how to spend that budget over a four year period at full Council in March.
Within that reduced budget, our officers found a way of delivering a library service in every community that currently has one, with longer opening hours as the public requested.
We agreed a budget. We agreed modernisation. We agreed value for money. We have answered every question you have posed on the business plan. We’ve agreed and conducted a building survey you requested at a cost of over eight thousand pounds.
Now, faced with the politically difficult choices that come with that budget, that are a consequence of that plan, we are told no.
You have said, don’t give us that choice to make. Find the money from somewhere else.
You have rejected the reports, options and advice of respected officers.
Despite accusing the Labour Group of shying away from politically difficult decisions, at the first major test of your responsibility as an opposition, of your financial responsibility, of your commitment to stick to an agreed budget, you have failed.
We will now, once again, put this decision on hold. We will work with you to somehow find a solution to this issue that does not inevitably lead to the closure of up to seven of our local community libraries. We will do that.
But don’t ever lecture us again on financial responsibility, or delivering value for money, or on doing what is right for the taxpayer. Don’t ever accuse us again of shying away from what is unpopular, but what needs to be done.”