Cost of living crisis declared by Bedford council - but Conservative councillor brands it 'party political propaganda'

“What we need to do is to find a proper way that this government will give more help”
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Bedford Borough Council declared a ‘cost of living crisis’ during its full council meeting.

Councillors from the Labour and LibDem Groups voted to pass a motion calling on the government to do more to help Bedford’s residents during the cost of living crisis.

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The motion, which was referred to as ‘party political propaganda’ by one Conservative councillor, called upon the government to immediately introduce an emergency budget, roll out a rapid programme of home insulation and other energy efficiency solutions, and design a more thorough, long-term economic plan.

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Councillor Roger Rigby (Conservative, Bromham & Biddenham Ward) said it was good for the council to debate the crisis, but he was “disappointed” with the motion “because it was put in by the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party just to have a knock at the government.”

He said: “I’m very happy that we have this debate tonight. I just wish that the question had been put in a more balanced way that all three parties [sic] could agree, rather than scoring party political points.”

Councillor Rigby then listed examples of government actions, he said, showed that it is helping those in need.

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“So let’s stop, just let’s be more balanced here tonight. What you’re doing is wrong, it’s party political propaganda. It’s not helpful to those people who need this money.

“What we need to do is to find a proper way that this government will give more help. But it isn’t going to come from this chamber tonight.

“When I look at the three points of your motion, you’re talking about people going hungry now and that mustn’t happen.

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“That is the trust of your motion, but when you look at the three points that you’ve got there, yes an emergency budget, and I think that’s what an incoming prime minister will do.

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“I have no actual knowledge that will happen, but I hope very much it does.

“But the second point is roll out a rapid program of home insulation.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, but it isn’t going to deal with the crisis over the next two or three months.

“And third point, design a more thorough long-term economic plan that moves away from fossil fuels.

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“We must do that, but in the context of the next few months everybody through Europe is firing up their coal-powered power stations to try and make up for the shortage of gas from Russia.

“So the two of those three points in there are not immediate, they are not going to solve this crisis straight away,” he said.

A Conservative amendment to the motion failed, and the original motion was passed by a majority vote.