Here is the text of the speech I gave in the full Council Budget Debate:
I would like to bring the Council’s attention to a particular aspect of this budget. Inward investment into Warrington is at a record high. The Orford park project, an unfunded aspiration of the previous administration, has been turned into a funded reality by us.
Omega, a strategic opportunity since the 1970s, which the previous administration failed to exploit, is getting under way with customers in place who will bring significant numbers of jobs to the site and the town.
World class development partners are competing keenly to invest £150 – £200 million into the town centre.
By succeeding in securing record amounts of Kick-start funding this administration is delivering record numbers of affordable homes and has provided employment through the downturn.
Perhaps the greatest success has been the formation of the Golden Gates Housing Trust which has unlocked over £100 million of investment into our social housing stock. Some of the least well off in the town will be getting better homes which cost less to run.
This is in contrast to the £30 million that was taken from Warrington tenants by the Labour government to be spent in other, predominantly Labour, Boroughs around the country. Newham, for example which then spent its own money on a grandiose new Town Hall.
Had the previous administration sensibly allowed Golden Gates to become a Housing Association, as St Helens did, by transferring their council housing, the tenants would not have been let down so badly, despite the excellent work done by the Golden Gates ALMO with inadequate resources. It took the current administration to achieve stock transfer which is bringing such benefits and work to the town.
And now the Labour group will be asking for another chance to let the town down. They criticise this prudent and fair budget, delivered in very difficult circumstances, which are largely the fault of the last Labour Government.
The group opposite repeats the Labour mantra that the cuts are too deep and too fast without mentioning any area that they would be prepared to cut. The difference between Labour’s plans and the coalition’s is to reduce the deficit by £73 billion by the end of this parliament compared to the coalition’s £80 billion. In that case the group opposite must tell us which 90% of our proposed savings do they support and which 10% would they reverse and how they would fund that reverse.
Are they prepared to do that? No! It is not so much a complaint of too fast and too deep, their mantra is that they would make no cuts, ever; or at least they will not admit to any of any significance. In fact Councillor Carey has given us an extraordinary wish list of additional spending commitments.
This is blatantly dishonest and shows how unfit they are to run this Council and how, if allowed to, they would let the town down again. I call on members to support this budget and to help us in our work to keep Warrington prosperous and to ensure that the burden of cuts falls fairly across the community as a whole.