Lib Dem plans for buses, roads and pavements blocked by Conservative and Labour councillors

9 Feb 2024
Cllr Henry Vann at Full Council

This week the Conservative Budget for Bedford Borough Council was voted through with the support of Labour councillors.

This included:

  • the highest council tax rise since the unitary council was created at 4.99%,
  • raiding reserves for £2.5m, and
  • borrowing plans increasing by £43m since the summer.

The minority Conservative administration combined with Labour councillors voted down the Liberal Democrat objections to the budget asking for:

  • £3m extra to be spent on road and pavement renewal,
  • Extra support for struggling bus routes,
  • More children’s play areas to be refurbished, and
  • Energy saving measures for people with serious health conditions living in cold homes

This fully costed alternative plan would actually have reduced borrowing by allocating under-used funding from developers.

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Cllr Henry Vann, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Bedford Borough Council said “Local residents have been badly let down by this Conservative budget that was only able to be pushed through with the support of Labour councillors. For thirteen years we worked hard to hold Council Tax rises down through good financial management all while protecting services and investing in the Borough. Now we had to witness the unedifying sight of the Conservative Mayor and his minority administration – backed by Labour Councillors – voting through a record increase in tax on residents and still proposing to cut key services.

“On top of this, our proposals that would have helped residents now with more investment in renewing our local roads and pavements, were rejected even though there was funding already available to support this. This was a bad night for local residents in Bedford Borough.”