Lib-Dems warn of 'a thousand cuts'

THERE has been a call for North Devon Council s Conservative group to put the local economy and regeneration at the heart of its policies and not condemn the area to a thousand cuts. Councillor Malcolm Prowse, leader of the Liberal Democrat group and Po

THERE has been a call for North Devon Council's Conservative group to put the local economy and regeneration at the heart of its policies and not condemn the area to "a thousand cuts."Councillor Malcolm Prowse, leader of the Liberal Democrat group and Portfolio Holder for Economic Regeneration, has written to Cllr Mike Harrison, Leader of the Council before its annual meeting on April 7, appealing for "a radical shake up of spending... to address the effects of the recession."The Liberal Democrats voted against the recent council budget proposed by the Conservative group, saying it left a �2.3 million hole which would lead to savage cuts and redundancies.Mr Harrison admitted in January there would be a budget shortfall, due to the effect the recession had had on car park revenues and other income, but on Monday he said the maximum of such a gap was �800,000."And yes, they did vote against the budget but although they had their speakers none of them offered any realistic alternatives," he told the Gazette.However the Liberal Democrat group warned that if the current system of joint party working was to continue, more commitment had to be given to promoting the economy and supporting North Devon + and the Theatres Trust, whose grants were frozen this year, as well as the North Devon Festival.Mr Prowse also said he feared the ability to deliver innovative regeneration schemes in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and South Molton was now threatened."The economy is at the heart of our proposals and if they don't accept that we will have to find another way," he said."I'm not prepared to defend the council's position on the economy if it is not sustainable and I don't think it would be in the future."Are we going to have a proper debate about what the council should do and its priorities?"But Mr Harrison said the Liberal Democrats were asking him to spend money the council did not have:"Rather than give copper bottomed promises I would rather protect the key services of the council and see where we are after w have done that," he said.


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