THE Liberal Democrat group in charge of South Lakeland District Council has vetoed a chance to condemn Cumbria County Council for agreeing over £24 million of budget cuts.

Opposition Conservatives on SLDC put forward a motion calling on SLDC to criticise the cuts, which were agreed last month by the Labour-Lib Dem coalition running the county council.

Coun James Airey, who leads the Conservatives on CCC and has a seat on SLDC, called on SLDC members to: 'register its disgust at Cumbria County Council's disastrous cuts of rural bus services and the removal of support for 16-19-year-old school transport."

His motion added: "This council (SLDC) strongly condemns this proposed action and the effect it will have on hard working South Lakeland residents."

But the motion was defeated at a meeting of the full council where the Liberal Democrats hold power with 33 seats against the 14 held by the Tories, three by Labour and one Independent.

Coun Airey claimed the decision to veto the motion was tantamount to 'supporting' the cuts.

He said: "These bus cuts will have a devastating effect on our residents and rural economy and the bill to send a child to school could now be huge. Knowing this it really surprised me to watch Lib Dem hands go up, one by one, supporting those outcomes - shame on them."

However, Lib Dem leader Coun Peter Thornton hit back by calling the motion a 'political stunt'.

"The funding of bus services is wholly a county council responsibility and Coun Airey was asking us to become involved in another authority's business," said Coun Thornton.

"I think it unfortunate that Coun Airey also saw fit to vote against our council plan with its target of 1,000 new jobs and 1,000 affordable homes to rent and I suggest that he concentrates upon the district council whilst he is in district council meetings."