One of my biggest concerns locally is the huge cuts the Westminster Conservative Government is making to the budgets it gives to our local councils. Despite raising council tax by the maximum 5.99% Lancashire County Council will still need to make another £100 million of cuts or face going bankrupt in 2020/2021. We have seen the Council cutting services to the elderly, young people’s services, and cuts to the public health budget.
I was astounded then to read in local newspapers that Lancashire County Council’s Conservative leadership voted to offer all 84 councillors new iPhones – at a potential cost to the council of £27,000. This despite all councillors being issued with new phones just a year ago.
It’s particularly shocking that the meeting which decided to splash the cash on iPhones for councillors also made the decision to double the charge on NOW Card users (pensioners and disabled people) who use their cards on public transport before 9:30am. It sticks in the throat to learn that some of the most vulnerable in Lancashire are paying the price of Tory austerity whilst at the same time that the Council leadership vote to give themselves high end iPhones instead of lower priced alternatives. Local people will be left saying ‘its one rule for us and another rule for them’, which does a disservice to many of our hardworking local councillors like Lorraine Beavers who I am pleased to hear won’t be accepting a new iPhone. She tells me the Labour group of councillors will buy their own iPhones or use cheaper alternatives.