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Surrey County HallNew rules that prevent councillors from funding street lighting, grit bins and highway schemes from their own local allocation budgets have been heavily criticised by Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey.

The rules, which were introduced by the Conservative-administration at the Annual General Meeting of Surrey County Council held on 23rd May, prompted one Tory county councillor to speak out against their own Leader and several more abstained on a Liberal Democrat motion to drop the proposed change.

All county councillors receive a yearly 'Members' Allocation' budget which they can spend on projects and schemes in their own division, for example by supporting a community initiative or small improvement works which would not be prioritised by the County Council. The Tory-run council has now changed the rules to restrict what this money can be spent on, a move which was criticised by members of all political parties in the council chamber.

Cllr David Goodwin (Lib Dem, Guildford SW), who proposed a motion to delete the changes, said: "Members from all sides have used this funding to improve their community, and fund projects and schemes that would have been ignored by the County Council. Items like grit bins and road safety schemes are highly appreciated by residents which is why Liberal Democrat county councillors opposed these changes."

Cllr Stephen Cooksey (LD, Dorking South), who seconded the motion, said: "There has been no consultation on this matter at all and it was clear that there are many Conservative county councillors who are deeply unhappy with the changes that have been forced upon them by their leadership. It is bad enough that the Members' Allocation budget is being slowly salami sliced away, but this attempt to restrict what we can do with it for the benefit of our residents is badly misjudged."

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