A ROW has broken out over a County Council spending plan which will see Rugby Library stay open on Sundays and more spent on adult social care.
It follows a Warwickshire County Council debate on how to spend a £3 million one-off Transition Fund allocated to the council by the Government earlier this month.
The authority’s Conservative Cabinet planned to close Rugby Library, together with those in Leamington and Nuneaton, on Sundays to save a total of nearly £55,000 a year – part of the council’s wider plan to save more than £92million by 2018.
But Liberal Democrat councillors joined forces with Labour and Greens to vote for a combined amendment which will see an additional one-off £108,000 pumped into the library service to avoid cuts including Sunday closure.
It was also agreed an extra £1million would be spent over the next two years on adult social care – specifically in assistive technology, dementia carer support, and falls prevention.
And £600,000 will be spent over the next two years working with children and young people suffering mental health issues, and the same amount on family support workers.
Conservative council leader Coun Izzi Seccombe said it was a waste of money, and called the other parties ‘short-sighted’.
She said: “Conservative councillors wanted to use the money to save areas around Adult Social Care, where there are significant financial pressures, whilst keeping funds in reserves to help mitigate future efficiency savings.
“Labour and the Liberal Democrats have chosen to waste valuable money that would have helped the people of Warwickshire in the future.”
Labour Group leader Coun June Tandy said the Conservatives had been told by their own government to use reserves to help with their financial problems.
She said: “The Labour proposal was about supporting people with mental health issues, supporting children and helping adult services. We felt that the money needed to benefit the people of Warwickshire now.
“We did put some back into reserves; however, my concern was that the Conservatives wanted to save the money to ensure they had it to protect services next year, in time for the county council elections.”
Lib-Dem leader Jerry Roodhouse said: “We’re pleased with the outcome, which strikes the right balance for using this one-off money. The Conservatives wanted to hold back more than we were prepared to accept, but in a Council with no overall majority they were unable to get their own way on this occasion.”
The council also decided Road Safety Education in schools will be supported by £100,000 to reduce its savings target; while £42,000 will help fire chiefs maintain the work of the Arson Reduction Scheme; and £35,000 will help boost the work on developing bids for cycling schemes.
A pot of £540,000 will be held back to help with further spending reductions over the next three years.