PROPOSALS to invest £1 million to help keep the county’s libraries open over the next two years were rejected as Gloucestershire County Council approved cuts totalling £29 million last week.

Liberal Democrats had called on the Conservative administration to adopt amendments to the 2012/13 budget to allow for an extra £7.6 million of public spending at a meeting last Wednesday, February 22.

The opposition group wanted to use money from the authority’s £106 million reserves to fund a further £2.2 million worth of road repairs, a £3 million investment in infrastructure, a £1 million contribution to assist the county’s libraries and a £600,000 spend on youth work.

But the Conservative administration, who command a sizeable majority on the council, opted to outvote the Lib Dem’s plans to increase the £392million budget, which will be spent over the forthcoming year.

GCC’s Government grant has been reduced by £9.2% from £137.8 million in 2011/12 to £125.1 million in 2012/13 and council leader Mark Hawthorne (Con, Moreland) said that loss of funds needed to be taken into account.

"It is no secret that the cheque we get from government is getting smaller all the time so we have to prioritise what we spend," he said.

"The budget approved today is a responsible budget that demonstrates our commitment to protecting the vulnerable at the same time as investing in our county’s future."

GCC is aiming to save £114 million by 2014 and the latest round of spending cuts follows on from a £30 million reduction in council spending last year.

The authority’s 2012/13 budget includes an extra £9 million worth of spending on social care for the elderly and vulnerable, as well as a £36 million investment in roads, schools and other services.

Council tax will also be frozen in exchange for a one off Government grant of £6.5million, which has been designed to discourage tax hikes.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Councillor Jeremy Hilton (Westgate) said: "Our proposals were both responsible, affordable and imaginative. It is a great pity that the advice given by Eric Pickles to make use of council reserves has not been followed.

County councillor Lesley Williams (Stonehouse, Labour) said: "I think we have been cutting far too quickly and the unintended consequences of the cuts will soon be seen."