SENIOR councillors have clashed over spending increases at East Staffordshire Borough Council.
Councillors Richard Grosvenor and Julian Mott have come to blows over plans to up spending in some areas and make cuts in others.
The authority’s leading group, led by Councillor Mott, claims the budget decisions it has made since taking the helm in February have been right for the authority and the electorate, but the Tory opposition says it is a recipe for disaster.
Councillor Grosvenor, leader of the opposition, told the Mail: “The Conservative group believes that Labour’s additional spending plans are forcing money which should be spent on essential services into pet projects.”
Since the Labour and Independent groups took control of the council, funding has been approved for free swimming, a review has been approved to investigate paying the living wage, and £50,000 has been added to the Neighbourhood Development Fund.”
The Tories claim the total spending has been in the region of £225,000 - at a time when the authority is looking to save £700,000 from its budget.
“They are adding to the need to find additional savings, which is making the situation worse. If they continue spending the way they are, it won’t be £700,000 they need, it will be £1.7 million” Councillor Grosvenor said, adding that he thought the leading group would struggle to deliver a balanced budget next year.
But council leader Julian Mott described the views of his opposite number as ‘hypocritical’.
“It is the Conservative-led government that is responsible for these cuts as it has cut its grant to the borough council by 58 per cent over the last four years. Even worse, next year the government will be cutting the grant by a further half a million pounds. Clearly, the council will have to make considerable savings next year.
“It is not our intention just to continue with the Conservatives’ budget. There are areas where we would like to improve the service offered and there are areas where we would like to make savings,” he said.
Last month, another senior councillor said there would be ‘no sacred cows’ as they authority looked towards savings.