Politicians in London for budget plea

RIVAL politicians put their differences aside last week to appeal to the Government to loosen their purse strings.

Councillors representing all four political groups on Kirklees Council, alongside two local MPs and outgoing chief executive Adrian Lythgo, met with Minister for Local Government  Marcus Jones to plead for more central funding.

Labour leader Coun David Sheard, Coun Martyn Bolt (Conservative deputy), Coun John Lawson (Lib Dem deputy) and Coun Andrew Cooper (Green leader) attended the meeting alongside Batley and Spen Labour MP Tracy Brabin and Colne Valley Tory Jason McCartney.

Kirklees has been one of the hardest-hit metropolitan councils in the country due to funding cuts from central government.

Coun Sheard claimed that a decision to accept a grant from the government in order to freeze council tax locally has left Kirklees short.

He said that the council would be £14.5 million a year better off had they not accepted the grant.

“We gave them the facts and figures,” said Coun Sheard.

“We are suffering more than most because we followed a Government diktat but look where that’s left us.”

In 2014, the Government offered Kirklees an additional £1.6 million to freeze council tax bills that year.

However, it has left them £28 million short for this year.

Coun Sheard explained: “Other metropolitan councils didn’t accept the grant to freeze council tax in the past and they are in a better financial position than us.

“We went there to make ourselves heard. While I’m not optimistic we’ll get anything we had to get the message across and hope.”

Batley MP Tracy Brabin said she hoped something could be done to help the cash-strapped council.

She said: “Reasoned and sensible requests for transitional funding were met with stony refusals at this time.

“Despite Kirklees Council doing their best to work within the restrictions placed upon them by annual cuts from central government, there is no longer enough money to provide the services our community needs and expects.

“It’s of deep concern to me that if the Government continues to refuse to budge it’s our essential services, like social care and children’s services that will continue to creek under financial strain.

“I’ll work with fellow Kirklees politicians of any party to continue these discussions as our Yorkshire communities should not, and cannot, continue to be treated this way by a government increasingly out of touch.”

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