Heated debate on cuts to services dominates final council meeting
DEBATES on cuts to services dominated the last meeting of Derby City Council to be held before the coming year's budget is set.
Members of the public quizzed cabinet members on proposals to reduce funding to help support people facing homelessness, the halving of cash spent on a unit which supports child victims of sex abuse and the introduction of charging to collect brown bins.
Efforts by Conservatives to get money put into the budget to keep biodiversity group WildDerby going and prevent the need to introduce charging for blue badge holders in council car parks were both defeated.
Instead each motion was met with a Labour amendment urging the Tories to come up with alternative options backed by research and figures.
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On the issue of blue badge parking, Councillor Ranjit Banwait said: "We are exploring alternatives because Labour councillor and disability champion Paul Pegg came to us and is working with us on alternatives – you need to offer up alternatives like that."
Councillor Martin Rawson did offer hope for the child sex abuse unit in Leopold street, which supports victims, however.
Following concerns highlighted in the Derby Telegraph, Mr Rawson said he had ordered officers to see if the unit could instead be offered to other authorities for a charge to help achieve the £100,000 needed to balance the budget instead of cutting the service.
In answer to a question from member of the public Mary Johnson, Mr Rawson said: "I'm extremely sympathetic to the case you are putting forward. I have asked officers to do some further work."
But there was strong debate on litter.
Tories argued against the "brown bin tax" which will see residents being asked to pay £40 a year to have their brown bin emptied, and criticised Mr Banwait's litter campaign which saw rubbish going uncollected for a weekend in the city centre.
Councillor Matthew Holmes, Tory deputy leader, called it "disgraceful" and a "political stunt".
And fellow Tory Chris Poulter also argued it had undermined the work to clean up.
While the parties argued on the methods employed to keep the city clean, there was cross-party support for the Telegraph's Clean Up Derby campaign, which highlights the city's worst litter hotspots in a bid to prompt action to tackle them.
Mr Poulter's motion to make the council ensure sufficient staffing was in place to support the Clean Up Derby campaign was defeated, however.
Instead a Labour amendment highlighting the council's litter campaign work and that of the Telegraph was passed.
Mr Poulter said: "I will put aside the political point scoring of Labour on this issue."
But he added that he failed to see how it could be achieved without the budget to support the work.
The next meeting of the full council will be in January when the budget is set.