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Lib Dems harness green energy to support front-line services

February 7, 2013 2:12 PM

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have revealed ambitious plans to harness the power of solar energy and wind to bring in millions of pounds every year to protect county council front-line services.

Their alternative Cambridgeshire County Council budget includes a £20 million investment in solar energy and a new wind farm that would generate £2.5 million a year.

In addition they would sell off the council's headquarters at Shire Hall and dispose of some of the council's "bloated" property portfolio to bring in a further £20 million plus.

"These are difficult times for local government, particularly in Cambridgeshire, where this year the interest payments on the guided busway will wipe out almost half of the funds brought in by the council tax increase," said Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Leader, Kilian Bourke.

"This has not been helped by the culture of corporate waste the Conservatives have presided over in Shire Hall. They are attached to the trappings of power and they consistently back this up with taxpayers' money.

"The Liberal Democrats would end this culture by selling Shire Hall and getting rid of an extra twenty-fifth of council's bloated property portfolio. We would invest the proceeds in renewable energy to generate an extra stream of income.

"We would use this extra income to provide better basic council services, to make it easier for people to get around, and to take care of our environment."

The budget also includes a plan to re-open youth clubs across the county, invest £500,000 a year in community support for mental health and put money in to improving primary school buildings.

The Lib Dems would reverse the Tory's cuts to funding for our bus service and increase spending to £5 million a year in bus and community transport while, at the same time providing free transport for young people seeking work, education or training.

Pavement maintenance would receive a £2.5 million cash injection along with money for increased gritting of pavements and cycleways and £4 million for strategic cycle links in rural areas.

They would deliver the long-awaited Chisholm Trail and contribute £3 million to the re-opening of the Wisbech rail line.

Ely's proposed bypass would be scrapped in favour of a less destructive underpass and Cambridge's city centre shuttle bus would be reinstated and run on electricity.

Savings would be made by centralising corporate functions, cutting press, marketing and PR and mileage expenses across the council. Extra spending on the council's social media website would be scrapped and the council's Cabinet reduced by three members.

"The Lib Dems would also protect lower earning and female staff from Tory cuts to terms and conditions," added Cllr Bourke. "Any reduction in the acceptability of flexible working would hit female staff hardest."

"This budget would not only protect our environment but capitalise on the income that can be generated from green energy to protect our front-line services and provide investment in those services on which our residents rely."

The Lib Dem budget amendment and supporting text are available online here: