'The city council needs to be far more innovative when it comes to austerity' say Tories

Article published in the Leicester Mercury on 7th December 2016

Leicester's Tories say the city council needs to be far more innovative in how it handles austerity.

Chairman of the Leicester Conservatives Jack Hickey has criticised the Labour-run authority and its elected mayor Sir Peter Soulsby after it outlined plans for further cuts to services as well as future four per cent council tax hikes.


Mr Hickey told the Mercury: "We've always asked the mayor to be more open and transparent with his spending proposals rather than blaming the Government all the time for the dire state of their finances.

"By their own figures, there's a gap between income and expenditure of £55 million by 2019/20 with their level of reserves falling to just £15 million.

"You cannot run on empty and more tough decisions will be needed to balance the books in future.

"This failure to plan properly and prioritise will mean more tax increases for residents, whilst less for the protection of vulnerable children and adults.

Mr Hickey added: "I'd like to see the council be far more innovative and commercial in their approach to service delivery.

"There's room for improvement in selling its own services to other councils, helping business through local procurement, the council offering their own MoTs, encouraging more school academies so schools buy back educational services from the authority.

"All it takes is a leap of faith and I'm not sure Labour have what it takes to make it happen."

Mr Hickey also said the Labour council needs to refocus its priorities away from 'grandiose schemes' like the £1.8 million revamp of Victoria Park and the £2 million cycle lane on Welford Road.

Sir Peter said the council was already selling it services to outside organisation.

He said: "We are doing that with great enthusiasm but it does not get anywhere close to filling the £155 million cuts imposed on us by the Government that he (Mr Hickey) supports.

"I don't think he has quite understood how the council's finance work and the separation between capital spending and revenue spending.

"I would suggest he talks to his Conservative colleagues at County Hall and the Tories elected councillor Ross Grant and they can give him a crash course on local government finance."

Read more at http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/video-sir-peter-soulsby-sets-out-the-…