At last Wednesday’s council meeting there was a long and passionate debate about the Conservative administration’s proposed budget with its attendant £35 million of cuts.

The Conservatives argued that the council has a legal responsibility to present a balanced budget. Labour argued that, although that might be a valid argument in normal times, the circumstances brought about by the pandemic are not normal.

Some £18 million of the cuts is accounted for by expenditure committed or income lost because of Covid. The Government promised to cover all council costs created by Covid. The Government owes us £18 million.

Moreover, they have given extra financial support to towns in the south of England due to “exceptional events of the past year”. Has Bolton not also experienced “exceptional events”?

With the support of their ‘coalition’ allies, UKIP, Horwich and Blackrod First and Farnworth and Kearsley First the Conservatives won the vote. By far the most extraordinary event of the night was the Liberal Democrat’s decision to abstain! On such a fundamental issue as the future of the council how is it possible to sit on the fence? As the third biggest party on the council the Liberal Democrat group must have an aspiration to take control.

Control means having the confidence and courage to take decisions. Liberal Democrat’s were put to the test on Wednesday and failed. On social media I have seen their decision described as “cowardly”; it was certainly an abdication of responsibility.

Kevin McKeon (Cllr)

Horwich North East (Labour)