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March 5, 2018 9:41 AM
By Cllr Eleanor Rylance
Originally published by East Devon Liberal Democrats

We were asked on Wednesday evening at East Devon district council full council to vote on the budget for the coming year.

Bearing in mind my last article on the subject in January, when the scrutiny and overview committees were left staring despondently at a full A4 page of "nice to have" items that would have been routinely the work of district council 20 years ago, but for which there is simply no money left at the end of the budget, I could not in all conscience vote for this budget.

Instead, I voted "Abstain".

Not because I don't believe that the East Devon officers drawing up the budget are doing anything other that working diligently and conscienciously- in fact they perform the impossible practically every day, but because it was clear to me that we are being asked to agree to an ongoing process of managed decline. I cannot in all conscience approve a budget that year-on-year is downgrading services, stripping out once routine district council tasks and making people used to a poorer level of service.

The problem we have in East Devon, and in Devon generally, is that we have layer on layer of Conservative-run government. Conservative politicians want to be good Conservatives. They may even believe the mantra that they are hte "party of business" and prudent finanacial management. Whatever they personally believe, they are trying to maintain this pretence at all costs.

And we all poorer for their refusal to stand up to their own party in government. In this area of low wages and larger than average numbers of older and vulnerable people, they should be resisting budget cuts, asking for the funding that should accompany those vulnerable people. Instead they acquiesce with the government's cuts. And I could not agree with that.