Guest blog: Liverpool Green leader John Coyne on this year's budget
What the Greens have consistently done in the last year is to put forward proposals to get better value out of our local democracy, months ahead of this budget. Proposals we made last October would have saved a huge annual expense of up to ÃÂ£500,000 on local democracy. Savings from all out four yearly elections, clawback of allowances from poorly attending councillors and the relocation of city officers back into the Municipal Buildings would have meant better value from our democracy and more financial resources for front line local services.
Unfortunately, neither the Liberal Democrats nor Labour have been keen to back radical proposals from the Greens, preferring a more "business as usual" approach. This year's budget hasn't done much for Liverpool's long term future.
When speaking about the national financial situation Labour's Chancellor, Alistair Darling has said, ""The next spending review will be the toughest we have had for 20 years..."
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader is on record as saying, "...there will need to be cuts, cuts that are savage and bold."
But with May's local elections approaching, and the Liberal Democrats odds on to lose overall control of Liverpool City Council after 12 years in power, there has been an ostrich approach from both the major parties. Instead of preparing us for the harsh years ahead, both sides have proposed no increase in council tax, putting perceived electoral gains ahead of the interests of our city.
We proposed a modest 1% rise in council tax (a below inflation increase), with the money going into reserves, enabling the city to prepare to weather the forthcoming storm. The other parties lacked the courage to do so. The result is that the financial pain will be much worse in the years to come.
In 2009 we had some success with Green amendments to the budget, but this year we did not. The full details on our proposals can be found on the Liverpool City Council website City Council Budget Meeting 27/01 with commentary at www.liverpool.greenparty.org.uk.
Our amendments show we believe that fairness is every bit as important as protecting our environment. We'd spend less money on councillors themselves and more on needy residents. We'd give up the glossy "City" magazine, the loss making Burton Manor and we'd spend more money on fitting dropped kerbs and providing resilient gritting programmes for next winter.
So we would spend differently and we would ask for more honesty in setting local taxes. People want the council to have the capacity to respond to people's needs - they deserve a frank conversation about setting taxes to meet those needs.