A CABINET councillor has been told to stop living “on Fantasy Island”.
Earlier this week the new deputy leader of Kirklees Council Clr Kath Pinnock said the Conservatives had left a £44m hole in the budget.
The Lib Dem made the claim after her party and Labour ousted the Tories from control of Kirklees.
But Clr Andrew Palfreeman, who ran the council’s finances until the Conservatives lost power, rubbished the allegation yesterday.
He said: “It is going to be a tough budget, not because of any mishandling of the finances, but because of the effects of the recession and unexpected pressures on some services such as massive, and unavoidable, increases in the amount of money the council has to pay to look after vulnerable young people.”
Earlier this week Clr Pinnock said she was shocked to learn of the council’s finances when she took power last month.
But Clr Palfreeman said she had been aware of the budget position when she was in opposition.
He said: “The books were always available for her to view. Is she saying that she didn’t bother to look at them? I hope not, as I know that she and her colleagues were fully engaged in the budget process. I was there.
“Clr Pinnock should realise that she is supposed to be running Kirklees, not Fantasy Island.”
But Clr Pinnock defended her position.
She said: “All councillors have access to information on the budget, but it’s only when you’re in the Cabinet that you get detailed briefings from senior officers.
“It was only then that I realised the situation was much worse than I suspected.”
Clr Pinnock said the Conservatives had squandered a healthy financial position.
She said: “They have caused this shortfall, it’s an indictment on their leadership of the council. The Conservatives have failed to plan for a rainy day.”
The budget and council tax rate for 2009/10 will be set at a special council meeting on February 25.