WARWICKSHIRE County Council has been accused of depriving Nuneaton and Bedworth of thousands of pounds worth of vital community funding and stifling local public opinion.
The accusation comes from Nuneaton councillor June Tandy, leader of the Labour Group at the Town Hall.
She launched her attack following the scrapping of Area Committees which enabled local people to have their say about county council issues.
Funding was also allocated to councillors for community projects where they were needed most.
But it was agreed at a full meeting of the council that each councillor will now receive a set figure of £5,000 on an `across the board’ basis.
That angered Cllr Tandy who said there were two options before the members.
One was for each councillor to be allocated £5,000 be spent within their locality and a second that the funding was to be allocated on a `needs basis’ that would have taken areas of deprivation into consideration.
The Conservative administration which includes six councillors from Nuneaton and Bedworth, one of which is the leader of the council Alan Farnell, voted for the first option to spread the money evenly.
Cllr Tandy said: “The second option would have meant an extra £18,000 being allocated to Nuneaton and Bedworth compared to the more affluent areas like Stratford-upon-Avon.
“All of the other areas of the county gain from the first option with Nuneaton and Bedworth the only loser. There were even comments like `the north of the county gets plenty already.’
”A further decision was taken that any bids for funding from the locality forums that operate throughout the county have to be based on overall criteria which will be `linked to county council priorities’ and finalised by the relevant portfolio holder.
Members of the public will not be able to choose what they want to spend the money on if the cabinet member disagrees with the bid.
Also, at area seminars to be set up as a consequence of the scrapping of the Area Committees, councillors will not be able to discuss issues that affect the people they represent without the agreement of the portfolio holder.
“Again, both elected members and local people will be dictated to by the Conservative cabinet members as to what they can and can’t discuss,” said Cllr Tandy.
She added: “Freedom of speech and the ability of local people to make decisions about their local area seems to be seriously lacking amongst the Conservative administration at Warwickshire County Council.”
Cllr Alan Farnell, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “We refute any suggestion that Nuneaton and Bedworth will lose out under the new arrangements as we will continue to listen to the causes of people in the area.
“The county council has invested millions of pounds into the borough, particularly for services for children and young people and adult social care, and will carry on doing so in the future.
“Community Forums have been very successful across the county and will provide the platform for local voices instead of the old Area Committees. The distribution of funding through each area will also allow a fairer system so that pockets of deprivation in other parts of Warwickshire receive much-needed funds.
He added: “It is worth noting that the opposition group voted against our Going for Growth agenda which will see a reduction in inequalities in social, economic, health and well-being sectors, as well as enabling a vibrant economy which is as productive and competitive as the best in the country.”