Whilst I unfortunately cannot predict the outcome of Budget Council taking place tonight (February 23) I can stand firm and say that the Conservative Group believes 100 per cent in the necessity to implement each one of our proposed amendments.
These include putting considerable funding back into youth and community services as well as essential respite care for families of disabled children and shame on the Labour administration and the Greens if they vote against saving these important services.
Despite the tired old line from the leader of the council that he has no choice but to end the youth service and other local community services because of cuts in Government funding, we have managed to find the funding to save them without the significant resources available to the Labour administration.
Residents who use these essential services should therefore question why on earth they have been forced by Labour to go through months of uncertainty and distress about the future when we have proved that funding can indeed be found.
In fact, it is Cllr Morgan and his Labour colleagues who should look inwardly at their failure to reform youth services after voting against Conservative proposals to transition more of youth services out to the community and voluntary sector several years ago to avoid funding crises such as those which we face today.
Ashamedly, this is something which Cllr Morgan himself confirmed in January.
At a recent committee meeting he stated “It’s a process which I think we should have started a number of years ago”.
Another issue of great importance to the Conservative group centres on the administration’s plans to redistribute and ultimately reduce the funding for residential, respite and short breaks for families of disabled children.
Labour’s proposals for cuts and a reorganisation of this provision have been described by the Parent Carers’ Council as likely to “push more families to breaking point, directly impacting on children with disabilities and their siblings.”
With many families already teetering on the edge of coping, our proposals will reinvest £150k of much needed funds into direct payments allowing families of disabled children to choose the right respite care packages to suit their needs, thereby helping families stay together.
I sincerely hope that for the sake of our young people, parents of disabled children and others that Labour and the Greens see sense and support our amendments for the good of the city.
Geoffrey Theobald is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.