AN amendment to the council’s budget was shot down by the majority of councillors in the chamber at yesterday’s meeting with some claiming it was ‘written on a fag packet’.

The Liberal Democrat group, who are the official opposition to the Labour Party in Barnsley, submitted the amendment which they say made ‘no substantial changes to council finances’.

It included creating safe walking routes into the town centre, to encourage more people to make short journeys on foot, expanding the active travel hub offering out to Penistone and committing to offer more financial support to the lowest income households in the borough, via an imminent review of the local council tax support scheme.

They also asked for robust consultation to give residents and communities a say at the early stages of projects that might affect them.

In moving the amendment, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group Coun Hannah Kitching acknowledged the challenges facing local government finances and congratulated the council in bringing forward a balanced budget when so many other local authorities are facing effective bankruptcy.

She said: “Residents frequently raise concerns about not feeling safe on our streets due to poor lighting, low cleanliness, crime and antisocial behaviour.

“With the huge amount of money ring fenced by the government for active travel, we’d like to see some of that invested in removing such barriers to people wanting to walk short journeys into the town centre.

“We’d also like to see an additional active travel hub in Penistone as well as the ones at Elsecar Heritage Centre and Barnsley Interchange.

“But we don’t know all the answers they need to come from the communities themselves.

“That’s why we’ve proposed robust community engagement, for example via Citizens’ Assemblies.

“This council needs to learn to embrace involving communities in the decisions that affect them at an early stage.

“That is at the heart of how we as Liberal Democrats do local government.”

However, the amendment did not receive support from any Labour councillor.

Labour Coun Kevin Osborne, who represents Darfield, said: “Most of us have been here before a Lib Dem last-minute amendment.

“At least it’s an improvement on last year’s JCB product placement.

“Let’s be clear, they’ve come up with three fag packet amendments which are certainly commendable but could have been sent by email.

“This is nothing to do with creating a balanced budget, but everything to do with another date important to the Lib Dems.

“Not April Fool’s Day, but May 2.

“Where’s the alternative budget?

“All they want to do is bang in a last-minute amendment.

“This isn’t an amendment that supports Barnsley.”

Coun Kitching disputed the claims their plans had been rushed.

“I do enjoy every year the ever-more spurious reasons that are given for voting against our budget amendment,” she added.

“Those of you that think this is a quick job, I wish it was.( “We’ve been working on this for months and it’s insulting to the officers who have worked with us to suggest this is something we’ve come up with on the back of a fag packet.”

A vote was recorded, with only eight councillors voting for the change.

The amendment was therefore thrown out.