SOUTHAMPTON’S opposition Conservative group has released its own budget, which it claims will deliver more services and less cuts than the plan yesterday (Feb 20) agreed by civic chiefs.

With a freeze on council tax, abolishing evening parking charges, no Blue Badge off-street parking fees, and the Itchen Bridge rise being scrapped, leader Dan Fitzhenry believes that this is what can be done with what the current Labour leadership has at its disposal.

He adds that his group’s plan also includes saving the axed Glen Lee care home in Bitterne.

Revealing the plan at Southampton City Council’s Full Council meeting, the Conservative leader also noted that the group’s philosophy of “getting the basics right” was a driving factor behind the budget plans, which includes additional bin collections, more cash for pothole and roads, clean air funding from the authority’s own pocket, and also a promise to man more council phones.

The proposals, which could only be implemented if the group took power – apart from council tax which can only be changed once per financial year, also includes taking £1.3 million from the authority’s around-£10 million reserves.

Asked how this could be achieved, Cllr Fitzhenry explained that the running of the council would be “streamlined” and not “mismanaged” as he claims it currently is.

However, when pressed on what streamlining could mean for employees of the council, he said that if the group took power following the May elections, a efficiency review would be conducted, where redundancies may be recommended.

Currently, the Labour controlling city council has 25 councillors compared to the Conservative’s 19.

The alternative budget was put to members of Full Council for a vote, to see if it would be adopted instead of Labour’s plan.

It was voted down 25 votes against to 19 for. There was one abstention.

Cllr Fitzhenry said: “To create a great city you have to drive up income from creating wealth from business rates and build up council tax revenue by building more homes. You also have to provide more services, more efficiently for our residents and provide the services that they want to use.

“The current [Labour] leadership does not know what it wants and is mismanaging what it has got.”

Speaking at Full Council, Labour and city council leader Christopher Hammond said: “This was not developed at the 11th hour, but more five to midnight, as you [the Conservatives] were looking for things that would help you to win votes.

“Could you imagine if we put something like this in front of the opposition? We’d be too embarrassed to do so.

“This budget shows that you have failed the first test and are not ready to lead this city.”

Deputy leader Jacqui Rayment added: “This budget that you have put forward lacks ideas and regurgitates stuff that has already been said.

“There are no new ideas here.”