Hertfordshire’s Conservative Council condemned for hoarding £10 million windfall

15 Feb 2024
County Hall

Hertfordshire’s Conservative council leaders have been condemned for hoarding a £10 million cash windfall, instead of helping children and fixing roads.

The Liberal Democrat opposition say the bulk of the money - an additional tranche of government funding - should be spent now, on urgent issues such as SEND and flooding.

Instead, the ruling Conservative group will put it all into the council’s reserves to bolster the bank balance.

At a county budget meeting this week (Tuesday 13th February), their councillors voted down a Lib Dem proposal to reverse a series of spending cuts and invest funds in other public services.

The opposition plan comprised:

- An extra £1 million to improve special educational needs provision in Hertfordshire, which Ofsted says has “systemic failings”.

- £1 million to reverse deep cuts to vital youth services.

A further £3.8 million would have been spent on:

- Improving roadside drainage to tackle flooding.

- A tree-planting programme

- Road-safety measures for schools.

- Reversing the 50% cut to county councillors’ ‘locality budgets’, which are largely used to provide grants to local voluntary groups.

Cllr Steve Jarvis, Hertfordshire Liberal Democrat leader, said:

“At a time when all councils are struggling for cash, this extra £10 million of government funding for Hertfordshire was a golden opportunity to improve residents’ lives without affecting council tax.

“The Conservative leader of the council remarked it was "wonderful" to get the money - but in the next breath said that none of it should be spent.

“It could and should have been used to help our most deserving children, through additional special school places, as well as boosting the environment, making roads safer, and protecting funding for Hertfordshire’s brilliant local charities and community groups.

“Unfortunately, the Conservatives would rather keep the money in the council's bank account”.

Cllr Tim Williams. Liberal Democrat resources spokesperson, commented:

"The Conservatives said they wanted to put  the funding aside in case it’s needed in the future. But money is needed right now - and urgently.

“We recognise the prudence, to some degree, of building up reserves for a rainy day. Diverting all £10 million to reserves, however, suggests they care more about spreadsheets than the best interests of Hertfordshire residents”.



- Under the Lib Dem proposals, which the Conservatives voted down, £5.8 million of the £10 million extra funding would have been spent immediately on services. £4.2 million would have been allocated to council reserves.

- The Lib Dem programme of investment in public services would also have been partly funded by speeding up the process of selling unused council property, raising  £32 million.

- It included extending council tax support for care leavers to the age of 25, from the current 21.

- County council finance officers agreed that the Lib Dem plan was fully costed, added up, and was deliverable

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