CALLS for a flooding reserve fund to be set up by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council – after the local authority reported a £1.8million profit – have been rejected.
Councillor John Izett, cabinet member for property, finance and commissioning, told last week’s full council meeting that the borough had made a surplus of £1.8m between April 2013 and March 2014.
However, Cllr Izett said that the figure included money that hadn’t been spent during the previous year, which would be used during 2014-15, and additional income from services such as planning permission fees.
But Labour councillors David Potter and Jack Cousens called on Cllr Izett to set aside £322,000 in a reserve to help flood victims across the borough, and residents who may be affected by imminent cuts to Hampshire County Council’s Supporting People programme.
Cllr Potter, who represents Popley East, told the meeting: “I commend this amendment to you this evening, and it would show real intent and real concern by the council for its residents in the very special circumstances. If it is not needed in the end, there is no harm.”
Labour councillor for Buckskin Cllr Nigel Pierce added: “I have been down in Buckskin for many days. I have seen people beside themselves with hurt. They feel unloved, they feel unwanted, and they don’t understand why things are not happening.
“To debate this amendment and to say they cannot have a fund that provides them with support is simply ludicrous.”
But Cllr Izett rejected the calls, telling the meeting: “What this report demonstrates is that the running of finances at the borough is done prudently, and we have got the necessary reserves available to us to provide help to our residents when those problems have been identified.
“When we know what the situation is in relation to Supporting People, we can then take the right sort of analytical view on it.”
The Labour councillors’ motion was narrowly defeated with 28 councillors, including Independent member Onnalee Cubitt, voting against the proposals and 27 members, including Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, voting in favour of the plan.
Five councillors – Tory members Steven Peach and Dan Putty, Labour councillor Vivien Washbourne, and Liberal Democrat members Keith Watts and Paula Baker – were absent from the meeting.