THE leader of the Conservatives on St Helens Borough Council has called for a cross-party truce as the authority tackles a funding crisis by coronavirus.

By September, the council is predicting losses of £36 million, leaving a funding gap of almost £25 million when factoring in the emergency cash provided by the government.

Last week, cabinet agreed to press on with the development of an emergency budget for this financial year in light of the grim projections, which will see all council services come under review.

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Cllr Allan Jones, leader of the St Helens Conservatives, said he has requested that opposition leaders be provided with a copy of the proposed emergency budget with a view to sitting down to work provide their own suggestions.

He said it is time councillors worked together as “one council”, and put “political rivalries to one side for the people of St Helens”.

Cllr Jones said: “What people should understand is, I have been elected to serve the people of Rainford and the people of St Helens.

“We are now in exceptional circumstances because of corona.

“I would love to work together with the leaders of all the parties on the council, including the leader of the council himself, for the benefit of the people of St Helens.”

Cllr Jones said he has requested that all opposition leaders be given a copy of the emergency budget, with a view to sitting down with Labour to give their views.

Cllr Jones said the Tory group will not propose an alternative emergency budget as he believes it would not be considered by the ruling Labour group.

The Conservative councillor said doing so would be a “complete waste of time”.

“We will not be wasting our time in preparing an emergency budget because we could spend hours on that, and we could use up hours of the officer’s time,” Cllr Jones said.

“We could put it before council, and it would just be thrown out.

“So it would be a complete waste of time.”

St Helens Star: Cllr Allan Jones, leader of the Conservative group on St Helens Borough CouncilCllr Allan Jones, leader of the Conservative group on St Helens Borough Council

In May, the council learnt it would receive just short of £5 million in emergency coronavirus funding from the government, on top of the £6.4 million it had already received.

The reduction in funding was due to a change in the methodology in the way the funds were allocated.

Following this, all of the group leaders on St Helens Borough Council signed a letter to the government, asking for “urgent clarity” over future funding.

Cllr Jones said: “Of course, we are all in this together in terms of councils up and down the country. The government is looking at it closely, we know that.

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“Until we know what government is coming up with we cannot comment. We have asked the government in this letter for some answers. We are actually still waiting for these answers.

“It won’t be easy getting around it. The council is preparing an emergency budget. We shall see what is in that. I have not seen that as we speak.

“We have asked for a copy of it for opposition leaders, whether we will get one is another thing.”