Lib Dems are calling on Arun District Council Conservative bosses to stop hiding their planned spending cuts. The Lib Dems have published an 'open letter' to the Conservative Leader of the Council, calling on her to publish their planned "Budget Book" with immediate effect, so that local people know what cuts are planned in this year's Budget.
Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition, Councillor Francis Oppler commented, "it is disappointing that the Conservatives have failed to publish a detailed budget ahead of next week's meeting.
"How on earth are councillors supposed to make up their minds whether to support a budget if they have not been told exactly how the money is going to be spent, right down to the last penny.
"It is in the interest of openness and transparency that councillors and local people are given the right to see how the Conservatives are planning to spend their hard earned money, before we take a vote on the budget."
Cllr Dr Walsh added, "It is outrageous that Arun Conservatives are trying to hide their planned cuts from local people. That's why we are calling for the council to open up its finances with immediate effect."
Full text of the Open letter to Arun District Council
To the Leader and to the Chief Executive of Arun District Council,
We note with disappointment that Arun has failed to publish detailed budget proposals ahead of next Tuesday's special council budget meeting. Instead, it appears you have only published summaries and headline changes, instead of spelling out what exactly would be cut and what exactly taxpayers' money would be spent on, for either revenue or capital items.
According to http://www.arun.gov.uk/financial-information you have, in previous years, published the Budget Book, which spells out the full detail on planned income and expenditure, earlier in the year, to give councillors a chance to study and scrutinise your budget plans. The Budget Book was debated by Overview and Scrutiny and by Cabinet, before coming to Full Council to be agreed. However, this year the budget documents that went to those committees only contains headlines and summaries of the budget and not the full detail – and certainly gives no breakdown of planned spending on individual projects.
What does the council have to hide? Why is the council not publishing the full, detailed breakdowns of planned expenditure in a draft Budget Book now? By failing to provide detailed information about what is proposed to be spent and what is to be cut, you are failing to give councillors of all political parties the opportunity to have a thorough and rigorous debate on Tuesday evening.
Therefore, In the interests of democracy, openness and transparency, we are calling for you to publish the full proposed budget book onto the council's website for public inspection with immediately. This will enable councillors to give the budget the full and detailed attention it deserves at the budget meeting.
We look forward to speedy confirmation that you have published the full Budget Book.
Cllr. Francis Oppler – Leader of the Opposition
Cllr. Dr. James Walsh
Cllr. Ian Buckland
Cllr. Paul Wells
Cllr. Daniel Purchese
For and on behalf of The Liberal Democrat Group
Arun District Council