After 12 years of Conservative rule, the full impact of the Tories’ ‘cut tax, wield axe’ approach is being felt in Windsor and Maidenhead with the publication of the 2020/2021 budget savings report.
Despite recently declaring a climate emergency, several of the measures announced will serve to slow down our progress towards net-zero emissions:
- Removing the Advantage Card discount in the borough’s car parks will encourage people to drive further instead of supporting their local shops.
- Almost doubling the green waste collection fee will discourage residents from recycling gardening waste responsibly.
- Cuts to the subsidised bus scheme will encourage residents back into their cars.
Amy Tisi (Liberal Democrat, Clewer East) says, “The Conservatives spent around £750,000 on new parking machines to help combat ‘Advantage Card fraud’. Now they are doing away with the Advantage Card benefit, and residents are left to battle with poorly designed machines, while retailers suffer from the ending of ‘pay on exit’ parking.”
Residents who signed up for free resident’s parking permits will be shocked to discover it will now cost them a minimum of £50 to park outside their own homes (£70 for all but the first car).
Joshua Reynolds (Liberal Democrat, Furze Platt) says, “The Conservatives attempted to discredit the Lib Dems in the run-up to the local elections by implying we would start charging for parking permits. Now, they are the ones doing just that.”
The borough’s most vulnerable residents won’t escape the cuts either. The report outlines:
- Cuts to the community warden service, despite an election pledge to have at least 25 community wardens. Community wardens provide an invaluable service to residents, keeping our streets clean and safe.
- The reduction of youth and early years services. These will now be delivered through two hubs, and will only be offered to people who are already identified as being in need. Despite the public consultation still being open, Conservatives have already decided that drop-in sessions will end.
Simon Bond (Liberal Democrat, Belmont), says, “Liberal Democrat councillors have argued that drop-in sessions are invaluable at identifying people struggling with invisible issues such as depression or domestic violence. Those people will now be left out in the cold.”
Summing up, Simon Werner (Liberal Democrat, Pinkneys Green), Leader of the Opposition, says, “I have been saying for several years now that the borough is on a course to financial disaster. Council tax freezes and cuts are great for making the headlines and earning MBEs, but are unsustainable in the long term. Now, residents will pay the price.”