Plans for £50k healthcare handouts for councillors slammed

Gazette Series: Plans for £50k healthcare handouts for councillors slammed Plans for £50k healthcare handouts for councillors slammed

PLANS to give every county councillor £50,000 to go towards healthcare in their respective wards have been slammed by the Labour Party as “unfair” and a “misuse of taxpayers’ money”.

The Conservatives have put forward the motion to arm each councillor with the funds to do with as they see fit to improve health in their respective areas and is currently being considered for adoption in the next Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) budget.

The idea is to en courage people to stay active and health-related issues.

But Dursley county Cllr Steve Lydon, who is chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee at GCC questioned whether it made sense to spend the same amount in an area where people could afford to use sports facilities as those areas where few people could do the same.

“This is even more of an issue given the current cost of living crisis. Some people can’t afford to buy food and pay their utility bills, let alone join a gym,” he said.

“Surely money should be spent where research has shown it is most needed?”

Cllrr Lydon added that there would be a total cost of £2.6 million pounds if the proposals went ahead and what was really needed was an evidence-based strategy to tackle health problems.

However Conservatives in the Stroud district have hit back at the Labour party, criticising their campaign to seemingly divert money earmarked for public health projects in the area to Cheltenham and Gloucester.

The Tories claim the funding would see sports clubs and similar projects in Stroud receiving £500,000 and, if Labour removed funding from less-deprived areas, Stroud could lose as much as £300,000 of that money.

Cllr Brian Tipper, Cam Valley’s representative for GCC, said he has had a number of discussions with local sports clubs about how they could spend the money in the Cam and Dursley area.

“It is absolutely disgraceful that while sports clubs are trying to do their best, Labour councillors are campaigning to give their money away to Cheltenham,” he said.

Conservative MP for Stroud Neil Carmichael has also backed the proposal.

“I believe the focus on public health in rural areas is just as important as anywhere else and I am particularly pleased that people of all ages will benefit from this scheme.”

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