Tories promise alternative budget as cuts row grows

Threatened: 'The Fleetwood Knott End ferry crossing is one of the services at risk

Threatened: 'The Fleetwood Knott End ferry crossing is one of the services at risk

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A war of words has broken out over multi million pound cuts about to hit key services in Lancashire.

Tory county councillors are now drawing up an “alternative budget” which they say should be used to save services, ranging from libraries and rural bus routes to the Knott End ferry, from closure.

Tory leader Coun Geoff Driver claims Liberal Democrat leader Coun Bill Winlow should be “hanging his head in shame” for not intervening this week to block cuts which will affect some of the county’s most vulnerable people.

The Conservative, who had put a motion to the council’s watchdog executive scrutiny committee which Coun Winlow chairs, said: “I moved that Cabinet should be told not to cut subsidised buses, transport for elderly and disabled people, libraries, museums and the Knott End ferry. My motion was defeated six (Labour) to five (Conservatives) with Coun Winlow (in the chair) abstaining. At the risk of stating the obvious, Coun. Winlow could have tied the vote and then used his casting vote to stop the cuts. I think his actions were outrageous.”

But Coun Winlow rejected the criticism as irresponsible and said constitutionally he is not required to vote and anyway he may not have voted the way Coun. Driver wished: “I had no reason to. It was clearly a majority.”

He said the financial crisis the council now faces was due to the Conservative party’s cost cutting. The £65m cuts package is due to go to the full council on February 11 for approval. Council deputy leader Labour Coun David Borrow said Coun Driver now has a duty to detail the alternative cuts so they can be assessed. But Coun Driver replied: “It’s not my job at the moment to do that. We are actually working up our proposal. But at this stage we haven’t finalised it.”