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Outcry over council consultants payments
Consultants will be paid £75,000 a year to help council chiefs find millions of pounds of savings.
Brighton and Hove City Council must find £22.5 million of savings in 2014/15 as the Government spending squeeze continues.
But, despite its draft plan threatening to see care homes close, workers with disabilities made redundant and funding to community and sports groups reduced, the local authority has agreed to pay a five-figure sum to an external body.
Town hall bosses claim the amount will be recouped many times over as it tries to become more efficient.
But Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald asked “what is the point?”.
He added: “Councils up and down the country have been taking these sorts of decisions for several years yet here in Brighton and Hove, the Greens and Labour are too frightened to do anything for fear of upsetting the core left-wing vote that they both need to attract in order to win the 2015 local election.
“It is ordinary, hard-working council taxpayers who are suffering from this power struggle.”
His comments came after draft budget plans were discussed in public for the first time at a council policy and resources meeting on Thursday.
The cornerstone of the proposal from the minority Green administration is a 2% rise in council tax, the maximum allowed under a Government cap.
Other headlines include scrapping up to 150 posts, reducing care budgets for vulnerable children, cutting street sweeping and cleaning of public toilets and a budget black hole of £2.5 million.
Presenting the plans, Green councillor Leo Littman said he was confident it would be a “fair budget for tough times”.
He added: “It’s not perfect but we’ve still nearly three months to go before it needs to be.”
Coun Littman called on members of staff, businesses, voluntary groups, trade unions and opposition councillors to work with the Greens before plans are finalised.
Labour group leader Warren Morgan said: “It is clear that once again we have a disappointing and piecemeal approach to tackling the budget challenge, rather than a wholesale review of how we organise, protect and deliver essential services.
“The true extent of the cuts on Brighton and Hove is now clear.”
Green councillor Ian Davey said that the council would be £3.7 million better off if the Conservative and Labour groups had not united to vote down a planned 3.5% council tax rise in 2011/12.
A final decision will be taken by all 54 councillors on February 27.
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