Bid to increase council tax is rejected

Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader

Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

A BID to increase council tax by more than £20 a year for households across Worcestershire has been rejected today.

The budget for 2013/14 was approved after a fierce debate at County Hall, with the ruling Conservative leadership insisting it would be “scandalous” to ask people to pay more.

The county council has pledged to boost spending on social care and roads, but is making cuts of £20 million elsewhere.

The council’s Labour group wanted a 1.99 per cent rates hike (£20.64 a year) and in return would have spent £500,000 on restoring axed bus services and £1 million extra on youth provision.

They also wanted the remainder of the £2.1m it would raise to go towards extending the pensioners bus pass scheme so they could use it before 9.30am.

But it was rejected by the controlling group, despite Labour warnings the budget was “cutting the throats of the people of Worcestershire”.

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: “This Tory controlling group has no compassion, empathy or an ounce of conscience for their actions - you’ve got an obsession with cuts.”

Coun Alan Amos, Labour’s deputy leader, said a 1.99 per cent rise would cost each household “40p a week” for better services.

“We all know that loneliness is one of the biggest problems for the elderly - how society treats its elderly is a true reflection of society itself,” he said.

In response the Conservatives said Labour was “ignoring public opinion” after recent surveys revealed 87 per cent of residents favoured a freeze.

Councillor David Thain, a Tory, said: “Why don’t you get out and talk to people and see what they want, instead of using this tired rhetoric.”

The leader Councillor Adrian Hardman added: “All you understand is tax and spend - we are responding to what people tell us they want.”

During the debate the Lib Dems, which also backed a freeze, called for two cabinet posts to be axed and street lights to be dimmed in order to free up cash for lifting the lowest County Hall pay grade from £6.47 an hour to £6.84, and for a better bus pass scheme for young people.

That was also defeated after a vote, with Coun Hardman saying improving upon bus passes for teenagers is “not a priority.”

The vote means the average band D council tax bill is set to stay at its current level of around £1,441 a year.

The exact rates for each part of Worcestershire may change by around £3 a year depending on if any district councils increase their charges, with votes due this month.

Comments (4)

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3:34pm Thu 14 Feb 13

bmoc55 says...

Well done the Council for not increasing Council Tax.

In these times when Government and Councils are clearing up after Labour's unlimited spending programmes, common sense is necessary.
Well done the Council for not increasing Council Tax. In these times when Government and Councils are clearing up after Labour's unlimited spending programmes, common sense is necessary. bmoc55
  • Score: 0

7:19pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Landy44 says...

Sanity prevails!

But did I miss something? Was there not an opportunity to lower council tax given there are 20million of savings elsewhere?

Now THAT would really have been something to show the people of Worcestershire that local government is in touch with the real world. C'est la vie.
Sanity prevails! But did I miss something? Was there not an opportunity to lower council tax given there are 20million of savings elsewhere? Now THAT would really have been something to show the people of Worcestershire that local government is in touch with the real world. C'est la vie. Landy44
  • Score: 0

9:52pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Trisha54 says...

Thank goodness for common sense. The Labour councillors must live in cloud cuckoo land to think we the council tax payers would be able to pay out more in these times of austerity and wage freezes.
Thank goodness for common sense. The Labour councillors must live in cloud cuckoo land to think we the council tax payers would be able to pay out more in these times of austerity and wage freezes. Trisha54
  • Score: 0

10:13pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Lew Smoralz says...

Just make sure that voters know who tried to increase the taxes with their mad, mad, spend, spend policies.

How many times will people allow the Labour Party to perpetuate their spendthrift policies?
Just make sure that voters know who tried to increase the taxes with their mad, mad, spend, spend policies. How many times will people allow the Labour Party to perpetuate their spendthrift policies? Lew Smoralz
  • Score: 0

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