£17 million deficit reduction approved by Peterborough City Council

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Savings worth nearly £17 million have been agreed by councillors despite a late motion to reverse some of the cuts.

The first wave of budget decisions was voted through by at a full meeting of Peterborough City Council last night (December 17).

Outside the Council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street. Photo: Paul Franks/Peterborough Telegraph

Outside the Council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street. Photo: Paul Franks/Peterborough Telegraph

However, the opposition Labour group were accused of trying to “hijack” the debate by submitting a late amendment which would see £540,000 less of cuts.

This included a halving of the £800,000 reduction in savings for high cost care packages and £125,000 put back into street scene services.

Councillor Nick Thulbourn spoke of the difficulties in care his brother is receiving.

He was just one of the Labour councillors to express their concerns.

He was joined by the Liberal Democrat, Cllr Nick Sandford, who said that the adult social budget had been “clobbered.”

The amount of money spent on adult social care, health and wellbeing is to fall by £7 million for 2015/16.

In response, council leader Cllr Marco Cereste expressed his disappointment at the late timing of the amendment.

He said: “I fail to understand what there is to gain by hijacking debate.”

Cllr Cereste and fellow cabinet member Cllr David Seaton both highlighted the cross-party budget working group which had been set up for the first time to hear the views of all different political parties in the council.

In the end, Labour’s amendment failed and soon after the first decisions on the budget were approved.

A further £8 million of cuts and savings will be introduced and voted on in the new year.

Cllr Nazim Khan said he was “deeply saddened” that a time limit was placed on the budget debate with each councillor only being allowed to speak once.

Elsewhere at the meeting, a heated argument took place over special responsibility allowances for cabinet members.

Several cabinet members spoke out against the motion from Cllr Ed Murphy.

Cllr Seaton labelled the motion as “political showboating to get a headline.”

He added: “Do we want the best people to be councillors?”

Cllr Cereste and Cllr Gavin Elsey both said the allowances were worth the hours which they worked.

Cllr Cereste said by the end of the meeting on Wednesday he would have had already worked 42 hours this week.

Cllr Lisa Forbes, though, said as councillors were making cuts they should lead by example.

She added that Labour group leader Cllr Khan is not taking his allowance.

Cllr Richard Ferris asked the cabinet to “make a small and painless step” during a time when all are being told they are in it together.

Following the debate the motion was eventually defeated.