LibDems propose amendments to get Leighton Buzzard leisure centre back on track ahead of Central Beds Council's final budget meeting

Central Beds Council's headquarters in Chicksands.Central Beds Council's headquarters in Chicksands.
Central Beds Council's headquarters in Chicksands.
Two amendments proposed by Liberal Democrat group

Two amendments are being proposed by the Liberal Democrat group on Central Bedfordshire Council at tonight’s (Thursday, February 22) budget full council meeting.

The first would put building the new Leighton Buzzard leisure centre back on track, after the Independent-led local authority threatened to delay its construction, said the group in a statement.

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“This ultimately would cost the council millions of pounds in increased construction expenditure and lost income,” the statement said.

“The second amendment aims to mitigate some of the worst budget proposals. These would clobber local residents with increased parking permits, and hurt local businesses in Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable with the complete removal of free parking in the town centres.

“Under the Liberal Democrat amendments, plans to scrap knife crime prevention in schools would be abandoned and grants to voluntary sector groups, such as local Citizens Advice, would not face real term cuts.”

The group describes this as a “compromise agreement seeking to tackle some of the worst and most impactful proposals in the Independent-led CBC draft budget”.

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Liberal Democrat lobbying has seen the council commit to £10m of future investment in much-needed health hubs, the group added.

“We’ve consistently raised the desperate lack of local health provision in both Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis.

“The administration has been forced to backtrack on its plans to scrap bus subsidies as well, which would have had a devastating impact on towns and rural communities across Bedfordshire.”

Liberal Democrat CBC group leader and Leighton Linslade South councillor Shaun Roberts said: “This is not the budget we want and we won’t be supporting it, but we hope our compromise amendment is accepted by the ruling Independent group.

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“This is so that some of the worst excesses of their proposed budget on local residents can be mitigated.

“The new Leighton Buzzard leisure centre would be put back on track under our plans, knife crime prevention would be saved, voluntary sector groups would be protected, and residents and businesses would avoid facing scandalous parking hikes and the complete removal of free parking provision in key town centre car parks.

“There’s no doubt this is a difficult budget, not helped by a costly Conservative election gimmick to freeze council tax and the Independent’s inability to get a grip on council spending in key areas, which are facing millions of pounds in overspend.

“We don’t agree with the budget, and won’t be supporting it. But we believe the Independents deserve a chance to implement their first budget.”