Hampshire councillor calls for cross-party working amid government budget cuts

A SENIOR Conservative councillor has labelled the government as the obstacle in Hampshire's financial future.

Thursday, 24th February 2022, 6:05 pm

At Hampshire County Council's budget meeting last week councillors across the political spectrum lamented having to make £80m cuts, while also being left out of the first round of county deals.

The county deals are set to provide devolved powers and more financial freedom from central government.

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Councillor Stephen Reid. Picture: Sarah Standing (180760-5876)

The Liberal Democrats argued that planning for a county deal was time that could have been better spent elsewhere - but Conservatives insist it puts the county council in good stead for the future.

Executive member for performance, human resources and partnerships, Cllr Stephen Reid, suggested the future opposition will come from central government.

At the meeting, Cllr Reid said: 'With a political debate I often try to put myself in the position of the opposing party - that party now being the government.'

'If I was in government and looking at giving extra powers to Hampshire, the question I would ask is whether they have proven themselves through organisation and collaboration.'

Every two years, when the county council produces a budget, it is receiving less and less money from the government.

When asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for clarification, Cllr Reid explained that the government holds the answer to the council's financial hardship, and called for unity among Hampshire's councillors.

He said: 'We are accused by the Liberal Democrats of not knowing what the budget pressures are - but that couldn't be further from the truth.

'We know what the problems are, but we're not in control of the solution. That falls at the feet of the government.

'Rising costs of adult social care and childrens' services threaten the long-term sustainability of councils across the country, and it is the government alone that can solve this issue.

'We would welcome cross-party working on things like this, as it would benefit the county.'

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Keith House, said: 'Local government staff around the country are working in a pretty impossible situation.

'As far as levelling up is concerned, I'm struck that this is a classic situation of the emperor having no new clothes. No money, no powers or anything more for the south east.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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