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Questions from the Lib Dems to Labour

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5:58am 25th May 2011
(Updated 6:58am 25th May 2011)

Barely two weeks after the local elections, the new Labour administration is facing questions over a black hole in its proposed new spending plans.

Labour Leader James Alexander has been announcing in the local media that he plans to make changes to the Council's budget including £1m of new spending commitments, paid for by scrapping the proposed Acomb Office scheme.

However, the funding for Acomb Office was delayed by an amendment to the budget in February, meaning that there is currently no money in the budget for the scheme in this financial year and therefore no money for Councillor Alexander to use elsewhere.
Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Carol Runciman said she was concerned that errors like this would lead to Council services being cut to meet the deficit caused by Labour's extra spending.

Councillor Carol Runciman says:

"When he was  in opposition we were used to Cllr Alexander making statements in the media that did not stand up to any real scrutiny."

"We repeated our concern throughout the election about whether he truly understood the budget process. It seems at the moment he does not. It is easy for him in opposition to chase headlines without substance or knowledge to back them up. Now that he has control of the purse strings such errors mean budget deficits for council tax payers."

"Scrapping the Acomb Office scheme will not save any money this year, and therefore Councillor Alexander is simply proposing to spend £1m extra without any way of paying for it."

"The Liberal Democrats have handed over a balanced budget to the Labour group and we will continue to scrutinise closely the use of tax payers money. I would ask now that Councillor Alexander speaks openly to the public about where he proposes to find this £1 million of additional spending he is so keen to promote"

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