Tories urge Labour to ‘spread the cash around’ in Kirklees

A FAIRER regeneration deal is to be sought at Wednesday’s council budget-setting meeting. 

The Conservative group will ask in an amendment for cash to be spread out among communities across the district.

Led by Coun Robert Light (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw), Tories believe that too much is spent in Huddersfield and, to an extent, Dewsbury.

Their proposal goes together with the devolution of spending on many services to local areas.

It would cover budgets for parks, markets, street cleaning, gritting, libraries and museums.

They will also seek extra cash for pothole repairs but would save money elsewhere by combining ‘back office’ functions with other councils.

Kirklees officials face making £84m of cuts up to 2020 that will affect frontline services.

Police community support officers, assessments for disabled children, social care and those at risk of domestic violence could be in the firing line.

Labour accused the Government of switching council funding to a one-size-fits-all system.

It was previously based on need, so Kirklees received higher funding as the district was assessed as being more ‘deprived’ than others.

Labour claim people in terraced homes in Dewsbury get £60 less per person in council services than in 2010, but in Oxfordshire they receive £50 more.

Deputy Tory leader Coun David Hall (Liversedge and Gomersal) said Kirklees would be in less trouble had Labour acted sooner.

He said: “We believe there are still enormous efficiencies to be made by the council.

“But the ruling Labour group should have started some of this work several years ago when it was apparent money was going to become scarcer.”

Coun Hall added: “We are committed to devolving the control of spending on local issues.

“This will mean real devolution of decision-making nearer to the communities which are affected.

“It will also drive efficiencies in delivering those services and help our local economies by employing smaller, local firms and tradesmen.”

n The budget meeting is at Huddersfield Town Hall on Wednesday, February 17 at 5pm.

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