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City council really is vanishing, say Lib Dems

January 30, 2019 10:49 AM

Jeremy Hilton and Rebecca TrimnellGloucester is one of the cities hardest hit by cuts to local government funding, a report says.

Think tank Centre for Cities said Gloucester saw a 23% cut in its day-to-day spending in 2017-18 compared to 2009-10.

The city is in eighth spot in the top 10 of hardest hit areas according to the report.

Liverpool and Barnsley worst hit by cuts to local government budgets, and were followed by Doncaster, Wakefield, Blackburn, Newcastle, Stoke on Trent, Gloucester, Glasgow and Slough.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: "This is further proof that Gloucester City Council is vanishing.

"The council will soon be leaving The Docks and moving into a rented and cramped floor of Shire Hall.

"And now the Centre for Cities report confirms what we have long known in the city, that Conservative Government austerity cuts has gone too far in Gloucester.

"There are 245 fewer staff employed at the council, services are in decline and Streetcare contractor Amey is failing.

"Gloucester City Council really has become the 'vanishing council'."

The Centre for Cities said cities have borne nearly three-quarters (74%) of all real-terms local government funding cuts in the last decade.

This is equivalent to a reduction of £386 per city dweller since 2009/10, compared to £172 per person living elsewhere.

Cities in the North of England on average saw their spending cut by 20% compared to 9% for those cities in the South West, East of England and South East, excluding London.

The report found that the growing demand for social care has added to the squeeze on cities' finances.

Dr Rebecca Trimnell, Lib Dem Parliamentary spokeswoman for Gloucester, added: "In last year's Budget the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised that 'austerity is coming to an end'.

"The Government must use the Spending Review to ensure that when it promised to end austerity it applies to local government.

"Gloucester City Council is under huge financial pressure and cannot keep cutting and cutting. If we are not careful the council will just vanish."

Dr Trimnell added: "A Liberal Democrat Government is committed to reforming local government finances by reforming council tax, replacing business rates by taxing land and giving councils enhanced borrowing powers."