Gareth Wilson

Liberal Democrat Campaigner for Haddenham & Aldreth Learn more

Conservative Council breaks election pledge to keep down Council Tax

by Gareth Wilson on 24 April, 2012

Following a debate on the Liberal Democrat amendment to reject the Conservative tax rise of 2.95%, instead accepting the 2.5% grant from central government, which would have meant that local taxpayers paid nothing extra, a vote was held. The record of that vote was that all the Conservatives voted to raise the tax and all the Liberal Democrats voted to take the 2.5% grant. Better than that , the Independent Group members all voted with the Liberal Democrats. There had been no pre meeting discussion of voting intentions, this was entirely on the merits of the case.  The chief financial officer had given an appraisal of the robustness of the reserves and when questioned confirmed that they were more than adequate, there simply was no need for a rise that would take money out of the local economy this year.

Liberal Democrats are concerned that when business rates are devolved to local authorities, as they will be soon, then Councils that have not cooperated with central government may well get worse treatment because of their perceived greed this year. This is against a background of £177,000 being placed in an unallocated reserve fund and severe cuts to voluntary sector grants.

A second amendment , put by Councillor Pauline Wilson, to give a grant of £10,000 to Ely ,Soham dial a ride was rejected out of hand by the Tories. The effect would have been to reduce the unallocated reserve to a mere £167,000. The dial a ride services at Ely and Newmarket provide valuable transport for the most vulnerable in society and feature prominently in Council community strategy, yet have had all funding removed from the district council. The dial a rides now get more money from Parish councils, many of which give small grants of a few hundred pounds, than they do from the District Council which cut their support to nil. If the ‘ Big Society’ is to mean anything then it must mean working openly in partnership with local people, we are not seeing much of this from the controlling group here.

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