North-south divide 'is unfair for Bury'
BURY’S Labour group has slammed the government for treating people in the borough like “second class citizens” following a fresh round of funding cuts.
Bury South MP Ivan Lewis and council leader, Cllr Mike Connolly, have delivered a damning verdict on the amount of money lost in the north and the south of the country.
Figures released by the Labour group show Bury will receive £327.85 per head of population in 2015/16 – almost £60 less than the UK average.
The figure is more than £100 less than the average for metropolitan areas and is the third lowest in Greater Manchester.
They say that, by 2015/16, Bury will have seen losses of £54 million in five years – nearly 50 per cent of its controllable budget and equivalent to more than £750 per household.
Mr Lewis said: “Fairness is a simple word, but is clearly not in the vocabulary of the Tories and Lib Dems in the Westminster bubble – and certainly not when it comes to the North.
“These savage cuts affect everybody and whatever your political persuasion you simply cannot believe it is justifiable that the North should be treated less favourably.
“Are we second class citizens? Are our tax pounds worth any less because we live north of the Watford gap? Have we any less right to receive the basic council services our taxes pay for?”
The figures also show Bury’s 14per cent scale of reduction between 2014/15 and 2015/6 is higher than other parts of the country with the English average 12.4per cent and the London average 10.7per cent.
Mr Connolly added: “We will not allow the Tories and their Lib Dem poodles to stand on the sidelines and do nothing while this town is allowed to fall apart.
“We will hold them to account – but we cannot do it alone. That is why Bury Labour Party is fighting tooth and nail for a Fair Deal for Bury.”
Draft figures released by the Department of Communities and Local Government show Bury will have to find £15.8 million in savings in 2015/16 due to a 14per cent cut in its budget.
The council must also save an additional £2.2 million in 2014/15, on top of the previously-planned package of cuts totalling £7.4 million.
Leader of Bury Council’s Conservative group Iain Gartside said he would consider supporting a representation to the government during the consultation period depending on the details.
He said: “If the Labour group are setting something down in writing to the government based on hard facts and not party politics we would stand shoulder to shoulder with them to get a better settlement for Bury.
“But this would depend on what is being put down in the representation – of which I am yet to hear anything.”
Cllr Gartside said the latest 14 per cent proposed cut is equivalent to a loss of £53 per head, against a UK average of £69.
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