Mental health charity boss Catherine Ingham reduced to tears over Derby City Council's budget cuts
A CHARITY boss was reduced to tears after Derby City Council voted to pull the funding it gives to the group.
The authority had received a petition of more than 4,000 signatures backing the work of mental health support service Derbyshire Voice.
But it still went ahead with plans to slash its annual contribution of £16,500 to the charity. Its chief executive Catherine Ingham left the council chamber in tears.
She had argued the council needed to keep funding Derbyshire Voice to meet its "statutory and legal responsibilities" to mental health.
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But Labour councillor Fareed Hussain, cabinet member for adults and health, said the service was "discretionary and supplementary", adding the cut "was not an easy choice."
Outside the meeting, Ms Ingham said she was "disgusted" by the decision and "too angry" to talk further.
The outburst came during last night's budget-setting meeting, where councillors agreed a budget aimed at making £62m of savings over three years – with a total budget for 2013-2014 of £223m. This will be subject to confirmation of the council's grant from Whitehall in February.
The budget included a council tax increase of 1.55% from April, which would see charges for band D properties go up from £1,127.21 to £1,141.63 a year. The council tax is set to be finalised at another full council meeting in March but is, it is understood, unlikely to change.
Councillor Sarah Russell, responsible for finance, said the budget was "constrained by the most merciless programme of cuts ever imposed on local government."
But she said there were positive aspects, like a £1m council mortgage scheme to help first-time buyers and staff salaries guaranteed to be in line with the cost of living.
The budget will include removing free parking for 10,000 blue-badge holders in council car parks from April 2014 to raise £80,000 a year and grassing over seasonal flower beds to save £109,000 by March 2015. The budget includes £20.1m of savings in 2013-14 and £23.3m in the following year.
A series of amendments to the budget – put by the opposition Tory party – were voted down by Labour.
These included proposing to drop charging for brown bin collections from 2014 and keeping toilets in Nottingham Road and one of three blocks in Markeaton Park open.
These will now close. The Tories proposed to cover the cost of its amendments by doing things like deferring Labour's living wage pledge until the end of the economic downturn.
Tory opposition leader Philip Hickson said the budget was a "result of local Labour decisions, not Government dictat."
He said: "Labour remain in denial about the financial crisis that they created (nationally) and wish to blame others for the actions they should have taken to address the national debt."