ALTERNATIVE budgets proposed by Bury Council’s main opposition parties were voted down as the Labour controlled council voted though plans which addressed a £10m funding gap due to the pandemic.

Councillors voted through a financial package which will see council taxpayers in Bury face a 4.7 per cent rise in their bills in 2021/22.

The cuts announced by the council include the closure of civic venues The Elizabethan Suite in Bury and The Longfield Suite in Prestwich along with overnight dimming of street lights in the borough.

Last-minute changes to their budget included halting the planned closure of Ramsbottom Civic Hall and a pledge to increase the wages of lower paid local authority and agency staff employed by the council to at least the national living wage.

Opposition Conservative leader Cllr Nick Jones accused the Labour leadership of wastefulness in handling the borough’s finances and put forward amendment to their budget, in the form of his alternative plans.

The Conservative amendment was backed by both the Liberal Democrat group and Radcliffe First councillors but defeated by a majority when the entire Labour group opposed the changes.

Similarly the Liberal Democrat proposals were backed by Tory members and Radcliffe First but ultimately defeated.

When it came to voting on the controlling Labour group’s budget, it was passed by a majority of councillors, with Radcliffe First councillors again voting in favour.

Delivering his alternative budget speech, which he said was ‘fully costed’, Cllr Jones, said: “We must aspire to do better as a borough.

“We want Bury to transform as a council but we a wonderful place to live, work and socialise.

“Our budget is our plan for Ramsbottom, Tottington, Bury, Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich. There is an alternative to the current administration.”

He said measures would be funded by cutting allowances and roles for councillors and senior council officers.

He said:: “Allowances have continued to increase as well as the number of special additional responsibility payments to councillors.

“In the last year alone the new administration increased the number of the cabinet from seven to nine and well as increasing the deputy cabinet members to 10. This all-costs money, taxpayer’s money.

“Throughout this time whilst there has been waste at the town hall through excessive recruitment drives with more and more people earning over £100,000 and hundreds of thousands spent on outside consultancy.

Among the measures he proposed were a reduction in the taxi driver licence fee from £180 to £120 and a council tax relief scheme on moving into work from universal credit.

He added that Conservative plans would include a £10m fund to build a civic hall in Radcliffe and the implementation of town centre wi-fi in Ramsbottom and Radcliffe.

He said he would also pledge £900,000 in extra support for Bury market and purchase Gigg Lane stadium in order to safeguard the asset for future years.

He said this would be partially funded budget by radically reducing the cost of the town hall, reducing the corporate core budget by £500,000.

Also scrapped would be the replacement of waste management vehicles.

And he pledged to scrap the £20,000 to be saved on dimming street lights by reducing councillors’ allowances.

A Liberal Democrat amendment to the budget proposed a greater commitment to mental health and an acceleration of Radcliffe’s regeneration plans.

Those measures were also rejected by the council.

Speaking against the Tory alternative budget, Cllr Lucy Smith, for Labour, said there are ‘gaps in Cllr Jones’s finances as big as the gap this Tory group has with reality’.

She added: “What we need is a budget for recovery and to help our people through hard times ahead.

“There’s nothing in there to create new jobs in fact they are looking to delay investment”