Labour and Conservative councillors have clashed over budget plans amid an ongoing row about cuts to bin collections in Enfield.

On Wednesday (February 27), the Tories unveiled an alternative budget they claimed would allow the council to keep weekly bin collections and help tackle the borough’s high crime rate.

They said the council needed to make better use of its money and proposed cutting day-to-day running costs to free up more funds.

But Labour councillors said the bin cuts were being forced on them by a Conservative government wedded to an “ideological” austerity programme.

The shift to fortnightly bin collections will save the council more than £2 million a year – but two-thirds of people who responded to a consultation wanted to keep weekly rounds.

Mary Maguire, cabinet member for finance, told the full council meeting that the budget was “fair, sustainable and resilient”.

She said: “We have a split borough. It is a tale of two cities – there is a wealthy part, and then in the east there are people who can’t put food on the table. Those are the people we need to look after.

“This is a budget that is in line with Labour values.”

Conservative leader Cllr Joanne Laban said her party agreed with some parts of the budget and welcomed spending on adult social care, children’s services and community safety.

The council is putting £1 million into children’s services during the next financial year and has pledged £1 million over two years to tackle youth crime.

It is also using a one per cent council tax precept to put more money into adult social care.

But the Tory leader said: “We believe weekly collections are a priority for residents.

“Residents pay council tax, and they respond to consultations – and it is the residents whom we serve.”

The Tory budget – which was signed off by the council’s finance chief – earmarks £2.2 million of savings through measures such as cutting the amount spent on security for vacant buildings.

As well as keeping weekly bin rounds, it includes £500,000 to retaining police officers secured under a match-funding deal with the mayor and £100,000 for community projects aimed at improving safety.

Cllr Laban added: “By accepting the Conservative amendment, we will rebuild trust and give faith back to the community in council consultations.”

Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan defended her party’s budget, saying it would protect services for the most vulnerable residents from austerity “imposed on us by a callous and incompetent Tory government”.

Enfield Council needs to save £18 million by 2020 and has already been forced to cut £161 million from its budget since 2010.

Cllr Caliskan said: “The Tory government that the opposition members support is making an ideological choice to decimate public services – and try and blame us for it.

“Why does Cllr Laban support her government’s decision to cut a grant of £2.4 million that would have saved weekly collections?

“They have not told us how they would fund the £2.8 million gap that would create over the next two years if they did not implement waste collection changes.

“Compare us to the Tory council in Barnet, who are implementing a scheme that will take away £2.3 million from some of the poorest people in the borough.

“If the Tories were in power in Enfield, that is what they would be doing.

“They have produced a back-of-a fag-packet budget and are incompetent – just like their national government.”

But one Labour councillor, Cllr Tolga Aramaz, who represents Edmonton Green, refused to back his own party’s plans.

He said: “I know I am likely to get punished by my party, but I will not be voting for the budget.

“I grew up in poverty for six years. I know what life is like at the bottom of the economic chain.

“I do not want to be a councillor to only implement Tory cuts when we could be doing so much more as a Labour council.

“We must look at every option we have so that people do not suffer anymore.”

After more than an hour of intense debate, the Conservative amendment for its alternative budget was rejected when put to a vote.

The administration’s budget for the 2019-20 financial year was then approved.