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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Arts centre agreed as part of Carlisle council's new ‘living wage’ budget

A revised budget for the next financial year in Carlisle has been given official approval.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Carlisle City Council after five proposed amendments from opposition parties were rejected by councillors.

Councillor Joe Hendry, the council leader, introduced the proposed budget and said it focussed on the current needs of Carlisle and called for all-party support to help the city get through the recession.

He added: “It is not a short-term budget. It is a long-term plan for Carlisle.”

The budget proposed a council tax freeze, a living wage for council staff as well as a number of projects including an arts centre, new swimming and gymnastics facilities and the renovation of Carlisle’s Old Town Hall.

The Conservative group proposals included:

  • Finding money to extend the current kerbside recycling arrangements;
  • £85,000 to create an environmental team to tackle litter on the main routes into the city;
  • Two grants of £5,000 each for the credit union and Churches Together.

Liberal Democrat councillors also proposed that £50,000 should be used to improve and refurbish the Cenotaph in Rickerby Park ahead of next year’s centenary commemorations to mark the outbreak of the World War One.

In proposing the first Tory amendment, councillor John Mallinson said that newer housing developments were not getting the same recycling collections as other areas.

The amendment proposed stalling the arts centre project for a year or two to help fund the extra collections.

Councillor Elsie Martlew, the environment and transport portfolio holder, said: “The people of Carlisle supported the arts centre, it was on our manifesto, we want to actually achieve something and that’s what we are going to do.”

And councillor James Bainbridge proposed the motion to provide the £5,000 grants to the two organisations – a move which echoed a similar motion by the Labour group last year.

Councillor Anne Quilter, the culture, health, leisure and young people portfolio holder, said that the Labour group had always supported agencies like the two groups. She added: “In the existing budget there is money available.”

Councillor Trevor Allison, proposed the Liberal Democrat amendment and said it was a ‘non-political’ proposal and the current state of the Cenotaph was ‘letting down’ all those who had paid the ultimate price in conflicts throughout the decades.

Councillor Elsie Martlew, the environment and transport portfolio holder, said that the issue was being investigated by officers and assured Mr Allison that the monument would be restored whatever the cost.

The budget was approved following a recorded vote – with 29 members in favour and 22 against.

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