Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have set out their radical amendments to overhaul the Conservative’s rudderless County Council budget for 2020/21.

The County Council budget has seen an uplift for next year, yet Conservative leadership continues to lack ambition: allocating just 0.2 per cent of the budget towards tackling the climate emergency and failing to enable people to choose healthy and environmental travel methods.

With a focus on the climate emergency, transforming public transport and road safety,  the Liberal Democrats are looking to:

  • Increase the amount being spent on cycleways, with a five-fold increase on the measly £100k which had been proposed
  • Hand power over highways back to local communities by doubling the Highways Local spend to £40k per council division
  • Spend up to £500,000 retrofitting solar panels to council buildings to switch to green electricity.
  • Ringfence an additional £1m to be spent on subsidising buses – reconnecting abandoned rural communities
  • Investigate spending £200k to upgrade buses to cleaner and greener engines
  • Allocate £100k to improve the county’s ailing bus shelters
  • Provide young care-givers with free travel on public transport
  • Create a £100k legal fund to enable communities to make road safety changes
  • Spend £30k to commission a study into the barriers to mobility for people with a disability

On these amendments, Cllr Jeremy Hilton, group spokesperson on finance, said:

“Despite the Government’s claim that austerity has ended, Gloucestershire Conservatives have still managed to propose one of the least ambitious budgets in living memory.

“Whether it’s tackling the Climate Emergency, responding to road safety issues or ensuring our rural communities aren’t left behind, the Conservatives are failing our county’s residents. 

“Our fully costed amendments, totalling nearly £3.5 million, represents a dramatic overhaul of the Conservatives’ business-as-usual budget.”

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat Group leader, added:

“When announcing the budget, Council leader Mark Hawthorne described this as ‘the easiest budget he has ever presented.’ I can only assume this is because he has avoided taking the difficult decisions when designing his business-as-usual budget.

“But we are not living through business-as-usual times – which is why we are overhauling the budget with proposals that will make our roads safer and enable people to make better decisions for our climate.

“I am particularly proud of our massive proposed investment in public transport.  Buses are the lifeblood for so many rural communities who have already seen these services slashed in recent years.

“I hope that Conservative councillors will recognise the importance of these budget amendments and work with us to improve the county council’s budget.”

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