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Tories’ alternative budget proposes scrapping 20mph limit to fund pothole repairs
SCRAPPING increased parking charges and city-wide 20mph speed limits has been proposed by York’s main opposition party ahead of a crunch council budget meeting.
City of York Council’s Conservative group wants to see an extra £1 million spent annually on “basic road maintenance” over the next four years.
The Tories said some of the cost for 2013/14 and 2014/15 would be met by axing £150,000 a year earmarked for introducing a blanket 20mph limit on residential streets.
At Thursday’s budget debate, the Conservatives will propose reversing increases in parking fees which are set to come into force in April.
They will also call for plans to keep parks unlocked at night, a change in opening times at Towthorpe waste recycling centre and review green bin collections – which could see charges introduced – to be dropped.
They will also vote to accept a Government grant allowing council tax to be frozen in 2013/14, rather than rising by 1.9 per cent.
The group’s budget amendment suggests cutting the council’s cabinet by three members to save £44,000 a year.
The Conservatives also suggest removing a planned £737,000 cash injection for the council’s “delivery and innovation fund”, which allows sums of up to £100,000 to be spent on schemes agreed by council leader James Alexander and a senior official.
The money saved would pay for the reversal of some of the ruling Labour group’s budget proposals.
Meanwhile, the Tories want £1.4 million from the council’s Economic Infrastructure Fund (EIF) intended to help create a digital media centre in York to be spent on preserving Guildhall and ensuring it can be used for other purposes once the council has left the building.
Under their proposals, the EIF would also provide £1.7 million of the extra £2 million for road repairs over the next two years, with facelift plans for the city centre and Newgate Market delayed until 2014/15.
The council has to save £20 million by 2015.
Conservative leader Coun Ian Gillies said: “Money is tight and we have to be pragmatic, but it is all about choices, such as whether residents would prefer seeing potholes repaired to having more 20mph zones.
"The Labour group has flatly refused to accept the Government’s council tax freeze grant due to political dogma, and by proposing to increase parking fees, they have shown their pledges to support city-centre businesses in the face of out-of-town shopping developments were empty promises.”