Guest columnist Cllr Gail Turner says the Ashfield District’s budget was a missed opportunity

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Last Thursday, March 5, was budget day at Ashfield District Council.

This is the meeting where the rate of council tax is decided and how the money will be spent over the next 12 months.

As opposition members, we Independents challenged the Labour administration’s budget by putting forward an alternative budget. This alternative budget shows how differently we Independents would spend your money and the areas where we would save your money.

This year in the Independents’ alternative budget we put forward that council tax should have been reduced by 1.9 per cent. We did this because Labour should not have put it up last year, we believe.

We put forward a budget that would generate income other than dipping into tax-payers pockets and to cut waste making a council tax reduction perfectly possible.

The hard working, hard-pressed people of Ashfield deserve a real break from this cumbersome tax—much of which is spent not on the residents, but on things like a staff canteen that has cost you over £70,000 every year, and food and drink at meetings that costs you over £25,000 every year.

We Independents would look at the staffing structure. We would put four more community protection officers on our streets and have three more environmental officers to get Ashfield clean and to keep Ashfield clean.

In our view, the organisation is top heavy. We would reduce the number of directors by three, saving almost £300,000. Our view is we need more employees on the streets doing the jobs that Ashfield people want doing—such as tackling the dog mess problem and protecting the most vulnerable in our society.

In an effort to help local businesses and breathe new life into our towns, Independents would give two hours free parking. This is not a new idea and it has worked in other areas such as Belper.

It is not rocket science, just common sense.

The Independents’ budget puts the people of Ashfield first before anything else, before canteens and food at meetings but Labour rejected our ideas.