CHESHIRE County Council’s Opposition members combined to force a vote of “no confidence” in the Tory administration’s financial management of the authority.
For the first time in four years the Labour and Lib Dem outvoted the ruling group by capitalising on the absence of four of its members during a debate on the Mid Year Performance Review.
A motion from Lib Dem councillor Adrian Bradley urged members to support the “no confidence” vote.
Councillor Bradley quoted more than a dozen areas of service where the current budget had allegedly been overspent.
Seconding the motion, Labour councillor David Newton attacked the Tories’ “repugnant remedial measures” to balance the budget.
Tory “mismanagement”, in a context of tightening resources, had virtually guaranteed that cuts would be made to services in next February’s budget, he claimed.
Labour leader Derek Bateman told members: “This motion is a criticism of the political management of our finances – not that of the officers. Our auditors have praised the way they manage our affairs but sadly they are being told to make difficult decision impacting on services. ”
Council leaderŠPaul Findlow said the criticism was not shared by the authority’s external auditors.
He pointed out: “It is my understanding that in their latest report, the auditors have indicated that we are performing well.
“The opposition took advantage of the fact that four of my colleagues were off ill to push forward a motion which, as usual, lacks a single credible recommendation.”
Later he added: “Not only that but they choose a day when the Government presents us with aŠ provisional grant settlement which at 2.2%Š – an increase of £2.5m – is just above the floor level .
“This compares withŠthe shire average of 5.7% and the national average ofŠ3.6%. Surely the worst day of the yearŠfor the opposition to cast stones.”