Coalition budget through after five hours of debate

Before the budget meeting protesters lobbied councillors over the sick pay proposals
Before the budget meeting protesters lobbied councillors over the sick pay proposals

A Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition won a tight vote on its opposition budget proposals but Calderdale Council workers will still receive sick pay.

Late last week the two parties announced they were to unite against the ruling Labour group ahead of last Monday’s Calderdale Council budget meeting to overturn the latter’s budget proposals.

One of the coalition alternative budget proposals included a measure to restrict sick pay for council staff, but this was one element which did not get through.

Councillors voted 26-23 in favour of the amendments put forward by Conservative Group leader Stephen Baines (Northowram and Shelf) and the Liberal Deomcrats’ Janet Battye (Calder).

At a lively Budget Council meeting, lasting nearly five hours, the Labour cabinet’s own proposals were rejected but Labour was successful with an amendment against the coalitions’s plan to cut the first three days of sick pay to council workers.

Council leader Tim Swift (Lab, Town) presented the cabinet’s budget proposals which included some concessions to the Lib/Con coalition. Coun Swift said: “This revised budget delivers more resources for cleaning and revised parking but we can not commit to the sick pay proposals.”

The move was welcomed by Coun Baines but he said the coalition plans would revise the controversial parking measures that have been criticised by local businesses and councillors and create eight jobs in the council’s Safer, Cleaner, Greener team.

Coun Battye said after the meeting: “Our overarching aims have been to make better use of the council’s resources to support a fairer society and build a stronger economy. The current Labour administration now needs to get on with implementing the measures agreed by the council.

“It is also satisfying that, of our 16 proposals, all but one were finally incorporated into the council’s new budget. If only the Labour Cabinet had run a more open and participative budget-building process, there could have been more collaborative working and an earlier agreement to the budget”