The City of York Council Labour administration has accused the Liberal Democrat opposition group of attempting to mislead the public over figures regarding ward funding.
The Liberal Democrats released several press releases in recent weeks accusing Labour of cutting funds to each ward in York.
The press releases include council figures showing budgets amounting to around £250,000 between wards.
Coun Andrew Hollyer, a Liberal Democrat, described it as a “devastating cut to our communities” and said “we are calling for a return to the Liberal Democrat plans agreed in February 2023.”
But deputy leader of the council and economy executive Pete Kilbane said: “Having been rejected by the electorate, York Liberal Democrat Party is now resorting to using inaccurate figures to mislead the public.
“Annual ward funding for schemes like foodbank support remains £350,000 per year, as it was under the old Liberal Democrat council.
“Around 40 per cent of that funding will now be allocated across wards according to need, reflecting the strong majority view of 87 per cent of those York residents who responded to this year’s budget consultation.”
What’s the reality?
The new administration pays £350,000 to wards, including a city-wide £100,000 pot.
£250,000 from the suspension of the ward committee highways fund has been moved into the central highways repairs fund.
Labour said this means less bureaucracy and time spent by councillors, however, they did admit it “technically” moved funds out of wards.
Coun Kilbane said: “The ward highways budget was incredibly inefficient with insufficient officer support to develop schemes and wards sometimes waiting years for schemes to be concluded.
“We have reallocated this money into direct improvements to road surfaces, a key priority for residents, meaning those works can happen quickly in areas where they are most needed across the city.”
But the Liberal Democrats say “it is no longer meeting locally decided priorities.”
However, the council did announce in July that it would reverse a one-off growth fund that ‘allowed wards to invest directly in improvements to local communities.’
The Liberal Democrats also took issue with each ward’s allocated budget.
The opposition party said “Haxby and Wigginton ward gets a lower amount of this element of the funding (£3,533) than Bishopthorpe ward (£3,953) despite Haxby and Wigginton having three times the number of residents.”
However, this just includes the base budget for each ward, not extra cash given for factors like the area’s level of deprivation.
Taking this into account, Haxby and Wiggington gets £7,482 and Bishopthorpe gets £5,389.
This also includes a payment wards make of 25 per cent of their base budget.
What’s the difference?
The council’s reversal of a one-off growth fund of £250,000 in July shows a genuine difference between the two administration’s budgets.
Another £250,000 has been moved from different highway spending pots, but is not necessarily a “cut” to communities.
The remaining £100,000 to make up the £600,000 claimed difference between the two administration’s budgets is from the city-wide pot.