This week, Sunderland's Labour councillors voted against the Conservatives' proposals to invest in children and environmental services.
The Conservative budget would have increased spending on schools and children's mental health, as well as developing a new leisure centre for children in Washington.
It also proposed giving residents bigger green bins for free, making pest control free in residential areas, and to roll out rat baiting bins across public parks and green spaces.
Our plans would have instead been funded through a £197,000 cut to councillors' allowances, abolishing expenses for councillors, and putting an end to loss-making events.
Above all else, the Conservatives' suggestions could all be funded without needing to increase residents' Council Tax by 5%.
Rather than allow residents to keep more of their own money, Labour rejected our plans and voted against our plan for schools and the environment.
Despite their promises to do everything in their power to prevent a Council Tax hike, Labour voted to increase local Council Tax by 5% - even when alternative plans were put forward to avoid a rise.
The full Conservative budget amendment is below.
Conservative Group Budget Amendment 2021
Reduction in Corporate Affairs and Communications (to include a reduction in the £100,000 spent on outsourced PR work).
Reduction in councillors' allowances (as set out below)
- Permanently merge Deputy Leader and Cabinet Secretary roles and re-establish the Environment and Transport Portfolio
- Reduce the Leader’s SRA by £2,667 (leading to an automatic reduction in Major Opposition Leader SRA)
- Delete the Minority Opposition Leader’s SRA
- Delete the Deputy Cabinet Member posts
- Reduce the Scrutiny Co-ordinating Chair SRA by £9,556
- Reduce the Thematic Scrutiny Chair SRAs – totalling £6,537
- Reduce the five Area Committee Chair SRAs – totalling £36,750
- Reduce the Licensing Committee Chair SRA by £5,369
- Reduce the Planning and Highways Chair SRAs – totalling £6,554
- Delete the SRAs for Vice Chairs of Scrutiny Co-ordinating, Licencing, and Area Committee - £41,846
- Reduce the Mayoral allowance by £7,500 and the Deputy Mayoral allowance by £6,000
- Delete the Adoptions Panel (£8,368) and Fostering Panel (£8,368) SRAs
Abolish all councillors' expenses
Reduction in Business Investment Team budget achieved by cutting the Japan/America funding and reducing the travel budget
Revised port deficit reduction
End Council advertising in Vibe Magazine
Cancel International Air Show and the Festival of Light this year for COVID security reasons and move to for-profit/sponsorship model in future years
Reduction in the Neighbourhood Fund (to reinvest, as set out below)
Reduction in trade union facility time
Reduction in Carbon Reduction budget (to reinvest, as set out below)
Insert five Park and Cemetery Wardens
Free means-tested pest control in residential areas
Insert 30 rat baiting bins across the city's parks and green spaces (not including those locations that already have them)
Free larger green household waste bin replacements for families of four or more, upon request. An initial trial of 1,000 bins over the year to measure demand
Move to a more pro-active environmental enforcement policy
Tree-lined streets and wildflower planting programme (to be funded via the Carbon Reduction budget)
School mental health counselling pilot scheme
Reduction in Labour's proposed Council Tax increase
Delete the F Pit proposal
Sale of the Roker Pods
Market for sale
Washington children's activity centre development fund
Thornhill Park School car park development (based on quotes obtained by North East Autism Society)
Derwent Hill glamping pod development (subject to planning permission)
Together for Children residential home development fund
Increased capital spend on Barnes Junior School
CCTV network funding for Richard Avenue Primary School
Funding for outdoor physical education apparatus to support mental wellbeing for Willow Fields Community Primary School
Repairs and maintenance fund for Houghton Community Nursery
Repairs and maintenance fund for Oak Learning Trust/George Washington Primary School
Repairs and maintenance fund for Rickleton Primary School
Repairs and maintenance fund for Lambton Primary School