On Tuesday 9th February, the Labour Group’s amendment to the majority Conservative group’s budget was rejected.
Speaking after Tuesday’s budget meeting, Cllr. Elisa Meschini, Leader of the County Council’s Labour Group commented: “We are very disappointed at the decision by the Conservatives and Lib Dems to reject the Labour amendment to this year’s county council budget, although we find it encouraging that the majority Conservative group acknowledge the many positive aspects to our budget. Our communities have suffered significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. As central government support is set to be removed from this spring, the council needed to focus support to help those in our community most in need. Children requiring catch-up learning. Those who should have free school meals all year, not just in term time. Families and vulnerable groups struggling to make ends meet who need assistance with food, heating and household bills. A long-term adult social care fund to address the continuing lack of a central government plan. And a recovery fund for our small businesses, so many of whom have barely been able to trade for a year, some without any support at all.
We also find it frustrating that the Conservatives and Lib Dems rejected our amendment to make the council a real living wage employer. 7,000 employers now pay the real living wage of £9.50/hr in the UK, including Cambridge City Council. They have missed a great opportunity to show best practice and recognise the great service the council’s employees have shown to Cambridgeshire throughout the pandemic and at this time of great hardship for the working poor.”
Rebecca Denness, who will be standing for the County Council for Labour in the Ely South seat in May, said: “As an aspiring county councillor, I was saddened that Labour’s budget amendment was rejected even though the majority Conservative group praised it for being well thought out. I was, however, disappointed to see the Liberal Democrat group leader Lucy Nethsingha frequently speak beyond her allotted time and that she and some of her fellow Liberal Democrats ignored the Chair and spoke over other Councillors. Whatever one’s politics, it is important that one follow the rules and give everyone a fair chance to be heard.”