Feb 25, 2009 0
Reading Borough Council’s Budget meeting this evening ended in disarray after Labour refused to negotiate a budget and the Tories refused to propose anything at all.
The Labour group suffered the ignominy of having its budget voted down by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups. The Conservatives then failed to table any amendment at all and then petulantly voted against every proposal put forward.
The Liberal Democrat group proposed an amendment which was fully costed and discussed with officers. The Lib Dem amendment proposed positive ideas as well as a reduced Council Tax increase and restoration of the cut in Council balances. Having vehemently objected to it as “grossly irresponsible”, Labour then bizarrely sought to discuss it as the basis of a potential compromise solution, but failed to put together a coherent or costed text. The Council meeting stood adjourned for around an hour. Councillors will now reconvene this (Wednesday) evening at 6.30pm.
Commenting, Cllr Gareth Epps, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said:-
“This evening saw disgraceful behaviour from the Labour Group which threatens to bring the Council into disrepute.
The meeting itself may come to be known as the ‘Battle of Tony Page’s Ego‘ after the failed Labour Parliamentary candidate hurled abuse at the Liberal Democrat plans which he then sought to negotiate around – before changing his mind.
Labour Councillors showed no signs of understanding they no longer have a majority on the Council. Their idea of negotiation involved no compromise but demands that Liberal Democrats cave in. Their actions tonight have dealt a huge blow to their authority and credibility in Reading.
The 18 Conservative Councillors failed even to table an amendment. They should realise that as Councillors they have a responsibility to set a budget and cannot indulge in gesture politics.
The Liberal Democrats are the only Councillors who have behaved openly and with integrity. We have tabled our amendment and sought to use it or any other ideas as the basis for negotiations. It is up to Labour and/or the Conservatives to table a proposal in writing. We shall examine any such proposal seriously.”