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BEDS LABOUR GROUP PROPOSES 'SAVAGE CUTS' AFTER NEC PRESSURE

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Bedfordshire CC Labour group - the largest on the hung council - says it will definitely present a budget at the an...
Bedfordshire CC Labour group - the largest on the hung council - says it will definitely present a budget at the annual rate-making meeting today, reports BBC Three Counties.

After weeks of internal wrangling, threats from the national executive committee and meetings controlled by party officials - including one at which Labour councillors saw their group disbanded until they all signed a 'loyalty clause' - a working party has produced a financial strategy.

The group's new leader, Andrew Dodghson, says it involves cuts to the capital programme and cuts to some services.

The move marks the end to a campaign by a majority of the Labour councillors not to put forward budget proposals this year to allow the Conservative group take responsibility for implementing the Conservative government's settlement for the county. At the 'loyalty meeting', the decision to present a budget was taken by 15 votes to nil, with 15 members abstaining. Then group leader Walter Cooney resigned as did group chairman Andy Blowers and the other group officers.

Mr Dodghson, a full-time Labour party official in Leicestershire took over as leader, but nominations were not forthcoming for other group posts.

Mr Dodghson said today the point underlining the wrangling and confrontation needed to be made.

He commented: 'The point we were making is that there are some very savage measures that will have to be taken today. Last year Bedfordshire CC faced reductions of £15m; this year the figure is a further £11m - a total of £26m being taken out of Bedfordshire services over the last two years'.

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