TEMPERS flared and a Basildon Council meeting descended into chaos as the Tory administration’s controversial budget was pushed through.
The Conservative-led council tabled an “alternative budget” based on a list Labour had compiled showing areas they would like to spend cash, or cut back on.
Ruling Tory councillors took the list and did calculations to create this alternative then tabled it as an amendment at last Thursday’s full council meeting in a stunt which they claimed would show up the opposition’s financial incompetence.
This alternative showed the council would end up £2million in deficit.
But senior opposition councillors claimed the Tories’ stunt made them sick, and accused them of playing theatre politics as Labour were not planning to put forward the list to a vote.
No-one voted for the alternative budget.
Labour accused the Tories of letting the meeting fall into disarray and preventing councillors from speaking on the council’s proper budget, as it went straight to a vote after the meeting overran.
Geoff Williams, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, said: “This is a pathetic attempt at political theatre. You make me sick.”
The budget was passed with a Tory majority, and means that while residents will have a freeze on their council tax, 4,214 social housing tenants who pay full rent will be hit by a 3.95 per cent hike, an average increase from £82.77 to £86.06 per week.
The Tories were accused of “shutting down Basildon” after passing the budget, which will mean the administration has to make another £1million in savings, with its Government grants cut by 52 per cent since 2010.
Labour councillor Keith Bobbin almost got thrown out of the meeting after repeatedly interrupting speakers, while the Tory administration’s leader Tony Ball said: “Labour haven’t been bothered to do an alternative budget so we’ve done one for them.”
John Dornan, councillor responsible for the environment, said after the meeting: “The point of it was to expose these car crash economics and expose labour for being financially incompetent.”
Labour refused to discuss the alternative budget, claiming it was nonsense and demanded the meeting be adjourned so there could be a debate on the Tory’s real budget, but this was thrown out.
After the meeting, the group’s deputy leader Byron Taylor said: “Rather than talk about the cuts in services and the spiralling costs that affect people’s lives, they acted like a juvenile debating society.”