Council cuts to go ahead

Protestors held a mass lobby of Wakefield Council's budget meeting, when �67m of cuts to services will be agreed
Protestors held a mass lobby of Wakefield Council's budget meeting, when �67m of cuts to services will be agreed
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CONTROVERSIAL spending cuts which will slash £67m from local authority services were agreed at a heated meeting of Wakefield Council this week.

Frontline council services are set to be affected as 1.700 jobs are axed by 2015.

Despite trade union protests outside County Hall on Wednesday, the multi-million pound cuts package was approved by councillors.

Even Conservative opposition leader Mark Crowther said he questioned the speed and depth of the budget measures.

But he blamed the need for cuts on a fiscal deficit caused by excessive spending by the previous Labour government.

Council leader Peter Box said the deficit was caused by falling tax revenues during the economic crisis, and attacked the coalition government for having no plan for economic growth.

He said any sympathy from the Tories were “crocodile tears”.

Referring to the national Conservative Party, Coun Box said: “You are a one-trick pony that knows about one thing, and that’s cuts.”

In a half-hour speech attacking the government, Coun Box said: “With 20 per cent of 16-24-year-olds now out of work, once again we risk creating a lost and alienated generation of young people. We saw it happen in the 1980s. And what’s the government doing about it? Nothing.”

He also dismissed suggestions Tory and Labour councillors should reach a consensus in implementing the savings.

Coun Box said: “There is a strong ethos about public services. The truth, I think, is most of what I have heard from you is crocodile tears.

“You don’t have the same passion and belief in public services that we have. You don’t understand it.”

Outside the meeting, around 50 trade union demonstrators waved banners and flags in protest against the cuts.

Kevin Osborne, regional organiser for Unison, said: “The focus of our anger is central government. But we are here to make sure the council knows there is huge concern about these cuts.”