Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Merton Council Tax increase and the Tories

Seeing this week's front page in the Wimbledon News and Tory leader David Williams comments, it seems that the Tories are getting their excuses in early for raising the Council Tax.

For a party that a few months ago were promising to freeze Council Tax, they seem to have changed their views and are now planning a rise above inflation.

The excuse given by David Williams is a poor budget settlement from the Government, this is absolute baloney, they have known the settlement they will get for many months and the Council has budgeted in line with the expected settlement which was part of the two year settlement announced in November 2005.

Naturally the outgoing Labour administration has been blamed, when it has been mainly due to their own financial mismanagement since taking office in May. While a budget gap does exist in Adult Social service (in common with most other councils) it is not insurmountable and would have been addressed if we were still in power.

Instead, the position that we have is that they are trying to jack up the Council tax by over inflation, they have naturally gone for 3.7% figure when the Government's preferred figure of inflation is 2.6% and they will no doubt try and go above that figure. Merton residents could therefore be faced with a rise of over 4% or even 5%. Like the last Tory government, they are already breaking their pledges. At the same time they are busy cutting services like Bond Road, which affects vulnerable children, and are also busy cutting services like special needs statements along with proposing cuts that will affect the most vulnerable in adult social services.

However, they are also proposing an extra £30,000 to spend on a Tory group secretary and are looking at proposals to raise their councillor allowances, in some cases by over 100%.

In my role as Labour group finance spokesperson, I have no doubt if we had still be the administration we would have achieved only a 2.5% rise in Council Tax for 07/08 in line with our election pledge. Thanks to the mismanagement of Council spending by the Merton Tories since taking control, the likely increase is now likely to be much higher the figure we has promised in the Labour manifesto.


Post a Comment

<< Home